Q: When did you start making donuts?
A: We started one year ago in a small kitchen space. We had a great response and had to move to a new space within the course of a week. And in the basement of the new place we noticed some strangeness—
Basically there were a bunch of walk-in freezers in the basement and they weren’t attached to anything. And all the doors in the basement were fireproof doors. In the back corner, there was a cage like the one from Fight Club. So right off the bat, it was just odd.
Q: What made you think the place was haunted?
A: Well, we share the space with another business. There is a kind of spooky Argentinian lady who runs the café at night and we asked her what the deal was with the downstairs. And she said, “Don’t you know? This place is haunted.”
I don’t know, there’s just something about that woman…
Q: Did you ever see or hear a ghost?
A: I work in this back kitchen with no windows. When you’re there right at dawn, like 4 am, and you’re in this windowless room…
I was there once and I heard from upstairs the heavy-heeled clunk of a dance shoe.
And the basement has these terrible fluorescent lights that can begin to flutter…
Q: Do you own this building?
A: We have a lease. Back in the day the building was a restaurant owned by the mafia. A restaurant and nightclub. There is now a dance studio upstairs where the nightclub used to be.
Did you ever see this show called, Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Q: I don’t think so.
A: There was this one episode where this restaurant “cooked fear into the soup…” Our kitchen always reminds me of that.
Q: Do you believe in ghosts?
A: Yeah! I feel it’s better to be on your guard than to be surprised.
Q: Did you believe in them before you started working there?
A: I just didn’t think about it, you know?
Q: How did you learn to make donuts?
A: My friend—she taught me the nuances of yeast dough. It’s not like baking at home with just a few ingredients though. There are like these 30-60 quart mixers and the dough can swallow you whole. If you mess up it’s devastating.
Q: How many donuts do you make a day?
A: We make 1200 a day on Saturdays. That’s our busiest day. On Saturday people are hungry like the wolf.
People are just super happy when they’re buying donuts. It’s like people have memories of coming by after church or being in their jammies and being able to eat cake for breakfast. And I think there’s something about sprinkles that makes everything better.
Q: How do you make a glazed donut?
A: We make all the glazes from scratch.
You know the cider donuts you get at apple orchards—they do it on conveyor belts with these sweeping glazers. We take the hot donut and dunk it in the glaze by hand. I have no feeling left in my hands from doing that.
Q: Do all of your clothes smell like donuts?
A: Yes. It’s not like bowling alley fry smell but I definitely have work clothes. This is going to sound terrible but the last thing I ever want to eat is a donut.
Q: Do you have giant vats of oil that you use to fry the donuts?
A: Yes. We strain our oil every day. It’s unglamorous.
Q: How do you drain the oil?
A: There’s a spout at the bottom and we strain it into clean oil jugs. Then we clean the fryer with baking soda. That’s why our donuts don’t have the “oily” taste.
There have been a couple of spills—it gets everywhere. It makes you think—how do they deal with this when it’s “the ocean”?
Q: What do your friends think of your job?
A: Oh they definitely have the hook up. I was a liberal arts major and I fell into this. It’s like a movie—it’s one of those unexpected jobs.
Q: Tell me a little more about the basement.
A: The main entrance is a staircase that goes down into a kind of rat maze. There are lots of rooms off a series of hallways, and the rooms all have these fireproof doors. The rooms sometimes have a staircase that goes up to the ceiling but they’ve been blocked off so they really go nowhere.
There are two and a half freezers in the basement. We made one function. There are no ovens though. If there were a kiln it would be more suspicious.
Q: What do you think they used the rooms for? To kill people? To gamble?
A: Probably not murder. I’d like to think the mobsters had the decency not to murder where people were eating. They had to make quick getaways though; why else would there be all those staircases?
Q: When I think of this place I’m always going to think of murder.
A: The rooms were probably used for card games, money laundering, or maybe just arts and crafts.
Q: I’m not sure I believe you, but then again I don’t have to work there.
A: It’s not the most beautiful place, but we make a good donut.