Four days before her doughnut shop is scheduled to open Brandy Fertitta paces the service floor in paint-splattered overalls.
“Our fryer isn’t getting hot enough,” she says as we step into the well-appointed kitchen. She lets out a rapid run of tiny puffs of tension, but I’m wearing a baby, and she seems to relax when I say, “You could cook steaks in here. I take mine rare.” Drills and shellac, spreadsheets and manuals, cups and lids clutter the dining room. A line of stools at a bar and a Christmas tree form one side. A long counter makes the other.
The opening of Glazed Doughnuts tomorrow will be the culmination of months of hard work–most of it tackled by Brandy and her boyfriend, Keith Ayotte. Fertitta quit her job in June, and Ayotte has been pulling double duty. This summer the parade of work vans has been non-stop, but the surprisingly-roomy doughnut shop tucked behind wine and sandwich bistro La Bodega, and a crab cake’s throw from Venture Kitchen, Taphouse, and Musasi, will open its doors tomorrow.
Ayotte’s mom is their most valuable employee, but to my mind their key assets are the drive-thru window and Rogue Elephant Coffee. See, Hampton has been wasting away in coffee shop purgatory for years. Blend was once a shining beacon of tasty beans in Buckroe, but its decline began when the espresso shots started being pulled blind, then the music and crowd turned full Duncan Sheik, and then it closed. Its well-meaning replacement had terrible coffee and kitschy decor. The last two coffee shops to open in downtown Hampton had coffee so bad I kept waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop out and reveal a ruse.
So it’s with relish I hit up Renee Curry to ask about the beginnings of her company, the deliciously delicious Rogue Elephant Coffee: “My husband Will caught the coffee roasting bug eight years ago after visiting a roaster in Jackson Hole. First he took it up as a hobby–roasting his own beans in a pot over a camping burner. But then his friends and co-workers asked him to roast on a regular basis, and when a family friend closed a wine and cigar shop that had a 6-pound roaster, we went for it.”
She continues: “Will burned his first batch in the pot, and when he got the big roaster it took him 20 practice batches before he was satisfied. He feels like he’s always learning something new about the roasting process. He knew his first batch of beans was good enough to sell when our friends were willing to pay for it.” While Glazed Doughnuts won’t have an espresso machine, they’ll be serving Pour Over, a method that has gained popularity in recent years for its ability to deliver the flavor of all beans cleanly and clearly. A pour over tastes like a perfect French press.
When I walk by the shop a couple days later the unmistakable smell of doughnuts is in the air. Ayotte and Allen Kuchta are in the kitchen being trained. Kuchta (who did some time at Venture Kitchen) walks towards me with a doughnut and says, “This one is fresh from the grease.” I transform into Goldilocks. The doughnut is not too chalky, like Dunkin’, nor is it too yeasty, like Krispy Kreme. It’s just right. It’s the meatiest doughnut I’ve ever tasted. It’s the kind of doughnut that can slow down time and make everything more pleasureable. I imagine a smile spreading across a commuter’s face as she slides into the HRBT–thankful she got off 64 and hit the drive thru.
I look up to see Fertitta check her email for the tenth time in as many minutes: “All of the stress we have felt will be worth it when we’re finally open.” She hands me a cup of black coffee. The brew is so even cream and sugar would seem redundant. The beans taste like a jungle, a hike through the Andes with Ernest Hemingway. Paired with the still-steaming doughnut, I taste every Saturday morning for the next decade. Added to downtown Hampton’s eclectic stew of restaurants, I sense a bright future for Glazed Doughnuts. I also sense a Star Wars-like line in front of the door when they open tomorrow morning.
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