Hostess may be closing its doors, but Tastease in Hartford just sold its millionth donut Friday.
The 400 square foot donut shop owned by Tony and Susan Mendes was giving away a decorative mid-sized donuts Friday with the purchase of a cup of coffee.
“It looked like a fire drill in here this morning,” Mendes said.
Regulars and newbies alike patronized the store Friday.
“They’re gorgeous,” Adam Ford, a Tastease’s regular, said.
A pastry chef, Ford, said the “beautiful little things taste great too.”
Others heard about the free donut giveaway and walked in for the first time Friday.
“I live right down the street and I’ve never been in here before,” one woman said.
Mendes let the woman know that they live in the neighborhood too, right next door.
“Customers tell me all the time that I should move to West Hartford,” Mendes said.
He said he knows he could probably increase his prices (a box of 16 donuts goes for $6.50) but that means he would have to hire more staff and deal with more headaches.
Mendes opened the shop in 2004 as sort of a “semi-retirement” project.
In fact, this summer he almost closed his doors after a run in with the city cost him a potential buyer.
He said he was five days away from closing a deal with a buyer when a city health inspector told him he couldn’t have two small tables in the store, if he didn’t have a public restroom. When the buyer learned of the problem, Mendes, said the deal was off.
“I should be on a golf course right now,” Mendes said.
But following a few news reports about the issue and more exchanges with city officials, he was grandfathered in and the two tables and six chairs stayed.
He’s not sure how much longer he will continue, but he and his wife were excited to hit the one million donut mark.
“I can sell you 36 donuts without duplicating one,” Mendes said proudly.
The decorating process is a three-stage process that’s pretty labor intensive.
“That’s why no one else will do it,” he said.
The flavors and colors range from chocolate glazed, blueberry, cherry chip, apple with a cream cheese frosting, Oreo, maple, and double chocolate frosted, among others.
The shop which opened up just in time for the economy to tank has hardly been impacted by the downturn. With hardly any money for advertising, the donut shop made the most of social media and quickly found a loyal following who spread the word to their friends.
Mendes showed off his three “Talk of the Town” honors as Susan continued behind the counter filling donut orders.
They made about 2,000 donuts Friday and expected to sell or giveaway every last one.
For those unfamiliar with Tastease’s it’s located in the Parkville neighborhood at 70 New Park Avenue. It’s open Tuesday to Friday 7-2, Saturday 8-2, closed Sunday and Monday.