New recipes

San Diego’s Donut Bar Reveals Their Cronut

San Diego’s Donut Bar Reveals Their Cronut

The Cronut Craze has arrived on the West Coast

Donut Bar is dubbing their creation the “Crobar."

Donut Bar in Downtown San Diego has developed a version of the cronut (a crossiant-donut hybrid) called the Crobar, Eater is reporting.

In honor of National Donut Day last Thursday, Donut Bar made only 100 Crobars for sale on Friday and Saturday.

According to their Facebook page, the Crobar was the result of collaboration with 7th Café, and featured a vanilla sugar flavor of the treat in addition to their usual specialty donuts.

The creation comes after diners’ infatuation with Dominque Ansel’s New York City cronut, and the subsequent craze that has been sweeping the nation.

According to Eater, Donut Bakery isn’t the first establishment to attempt a knockoff, with bakeries in Australia, the Phillippines, and Washington D.C. all trying their hand at the deep-fried delight.

The sale lasted only two days, and Donut Bar featured their regular menu items this morning. There’s no word yet on whether or not the Crobar will be coming back to downtown San Diego, but it is probably safe to assume international enthusiasts have not seen the last of the cronut.

5 San Diego Donut Shops To Try Right Now

Mornings usually call for a green smoothie or hearty bowl of oatmeal, but sometimes you need that sweet fix and donuts are having their shining moment in San Diego. People are lining up to get some of the city’s best breakfast sugar bombs, and for good reason. New creations are pleasing everyone from vegans to sugar fiends, so we decided to take on the task of finding San Diego’s best donut shops.

Donut Bar

Photo courtesy of Tom Holmberg at

On a normal day, the Donut Bar will have a line out the door, and it’s easy to see why. This is not your typical donut shop. Donut Bar is known for their unique display of donuts and a menu that changes constantly. Some flavors include crème brulee, Nutella, red velvet, somoa, salted caramel, and a Homer inspired donut. One of their most popular flavors is the Smore’s Big Poppa Tart: a smore’s Pop Tart is stuffed inside doughy goodness and filled with fudge. The S’mores Pop-Tart alongside the creamy fudge filling work well in the fluffy doughnut interior.

Photo courtesy of Tom Holmberg at

#spoontip: If you’re determined to get a donut, be sure to arrive early. Donut Bar closes once the donuts are sold out.

Donut Panic

Photo courtesy of

Besides a clever name, Donut Panic is also great at glazed donuts. Along with traditional donuts, they offer vegan creations such as chocolate espresso almond, Earl Grey, maple bacon glaze, and even rosewater cardamom. Baker Linda Dami combines potato flakes mixed with flour, soy milk, sugar, salt, oil, and yeast. The result is a donut with a crisp outer shell and soft inside.

Photo courtesy of

Nomad Donuts

Photo courtesy of

This North Park shop serves creative donuts from Cheesecake Custard Charred Blueberry Lemon, Chocolate Custard Honey Peanut Butter Bacon, Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake, and Raspberry Lavender. Nomad even has an entire menu section dedicated to exotic vegan options with flavors such as Habanero Peach Guava, Coffee Maple, Ube Taro Coconut, Key Lime Prickly Pear, and Coconut Passionfruit. For you sticklers on the classics you’ll still be able to find the good ol’ flavors like old fashioned vanilla bean, maple, or chocolate glazed.

Photo courtesy of

#spoontip: their menu is updated daily so check out their website or Instagram.

Peterson’s Donut Corner

Photo courtesy of

The Peterson’s Pillow is the only square here and it’s a game changer. Known for a new spin on the cronut, this pillow comes in flavors such as: chocolate, maple bacon, and cinnamon sugar. They also offer a variety of donuts, twists, bars, and pastries. Every option here is giant and could easily feed a family of four…and we dare you to finish it.

#spoontip: This little joint is open 24 hours for late night cravings.

Devil’s Dozen Donuts

Photo courtesy of

You won’t find any fancy combinations or crazy displays at Devil’s, but they are nothing short of gourmet. It’s all about the classic flavors done with quality ingredients: vanilla bean, cinnamon sugar, chocolate, s’mores, and churro bites.

Another San Diego Cronut Contender: Cronut at Peterson’s Donut Corner

My experience with cronut wannabes lately is that the high-end bakeries are trying to grab a piece of the donut with this food fad. So when I see a smaller, lesser known shop come out with their version, I want to cheer them on. When a trip to Riverside brought me close to Peterson’s Donut Corner in Escondido, I was excited to see their interpretation of a cronut. I had been wanting to check them out for a while and this made the long drive even sweeter.

Peterson’s Donut Corner is majestic. There are countless varieties of donuts on display and prices start at .95 for cake and old fashioned. They make no intention of naming their cronut anything but “cronut.” It’s a cronut. And their version comes topped with maple, chocolate (both available during my visit), strawberry, cinnamon-sugar and glazed.

The first thing evident about Peterson’s cronut is the shape. It’s square with a slight hole in the middle as evidenced by the divot where the frosting sinks in. If cronuts are sold by weight, this one has all the other ones in San Diego beat. It’s heavy in the hand and costs a mere $2.95.

The pastry is deep fried and not at all greasy. Splitting their cronut shows their flaky layers crushed by the sheer weight of frosting. What should be a light pastry is made dense. No filling is seen inside the donut and the frosting more than makes up for it. The frosting alone makes the entire thing tooth-achingly sweet. Even with my legendary sweet tooth, it took more than two days and two people to finish this off. (The cronut stays surprisingly fresh overnight.) As a final resort I remedied the situation by taking off the frosting layer and ate the remainder. The cronut was reduced to a deep-fried croissant. I hope for better things for the cinnamon version.

It’s a nice effort on Peterson’s part and it’s refreshing to see no frenzied people other than other Saturday morning donut afficionados out to satisfy their sweet fix. The people at Peterson’s tell me that they’re perfecting the recipe so it’s still a work in progress. Peterson’s Donut Corner’s cronut is currently only available on the weekends but will soon be available every day.

Five Faves: Doughnuts to Donuts to Cronuts

Fried, flavored, layered, powdered, glazed, filled with fruit, topped with chocolate chips, bits of bacon and maple syrup — well, let’s just say the traditional doughnut has definitely been reimagined into some of the most amazing temptations to gratify the most demanding donut devotee.

“If I’m going to do donuts, I’m going to stop at nothing,” said Chef Santiago Campa when opening his multi-award-winning Donut Bar in downtown San Diego in 2013 and this year at San Diego International Airport. His energetic creativity is rewarded frequently and to date includes being named as one of the country’s Top 10 Donut Shops in 2015 by USA Today and San Diego Magazine’s Best of San Diego Critics’ Choice and Readers’ Choice. His innovations have appeared on NBC’s Nightly News, are frequently covered by Associated Press, and celebs including Brad Pitt, Ryan Seacrest, Steve Harvey, and Ellen DeGeneres have invited him to be a guest on their shows.

Faves include the ginormous, one-pound Big Papa Tart Donut which encases an entire pop tart in a donut, the Maple Bourbon using a Jim Beam reduction, Chocolate Euphoria, Triple Chocolate Threat, Salted Caramel, Butter Beer, and Cro-Bar Cronut. Tasty options for vegans include the strawberry split, banana caramel, and crème brûlée.

Woodland Hills: Blinkies Donuts

Established in the 1960s, up to four generations now visit this landmark which offers some of the tastiest treats for miles around. Now run by owner Teresa NGO and her Team Blinkies, their specialty—fluffy raised donuts—come with chocolate, maple, vanilla, and cinnamon crumble, glazed or filled with raspberry, Bavarian cream, lemon, cookies and cream, strawberries and cream and more.

Their old fashioned come in plain or glazed with chocolate, maple or blueberry while the cake varieties are topped with vanilla, chocolate, maple icing and tasty bits such as chocolate chips, sprinkles, toasted coconut, peanuts, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. All are handmade daily on the premises and the shop closes when they are sold out. | 818-884-4456

For more than four decades, The Donut Man, Jim Nakano, and his wife, Miyoko, have weathered every challenge with their modest shop on old Route 66. Not even the Egg McMuffin, health food fads, diets, or other deterrents have made a dent in their trade. It began with their now legendary strawberry donut which is sliced in half and filled with fresh berries.

Today, you can choose from dozens of seasonal temptations including the French cruller with assorted glazes and/or filled with cream, a creamy peanut butter-topped raised donut, peanut butter cream puff , lemon-filled glazed, apples stuffed in a cinnamon crumbled donut and nearly every conceivable raised, glazed and filled option you can think of.

The Donut Man has also been featured on The Food Network, The Cooking Channel and other media. | 626-335-9111

Hollywood Hills: Kettle Glazed Doughnuts

Kettle Glazed Doughnuts opened on Franklin Avenue near the 101 freeway in 2013, the same year the cronut was born in Manhattan. A tasty marriage of the croissant and doughnut, the layered pastry is light, fluffy and has become a staple in many donut shops across the country. Kettle Glazed calls theirs “croissant style” and features the original cinnamon sugar and one drizzled in chocolate. Croissant-style minis come in a variety of daily specials such as mocha, pistachio, and white chocolate raspberry.

Kettle Glazed also offers old fashioned styles including chocolate topped with chocolate, blueberry maple bacon, and blueberry lemon. Filled options include Boston crème, lemon square, raspberry vanilla bean, even a PB&J, and Smores complete with a marshmallow and graham cracker topping the chocolate. | 323-462-2344.

It began in 1939 when the Pelton brothers decided to create the perfect doughnut for their modest shop in Salt Lake City, Utah. Eventually, they came up with a recipe using Idaho potatoes in a specially blended flour and the Spudnut was born. That same recipe is used today in the chain of Spudnuts shops throughout Southern California and the U.S.

Spudnuts are lighter and fluffier than normal raised donuts and come with a variety of toppings.

The Doughssant or donut-croissant hybrid is their version of the cronut and comes in a variety of flavors including glazed, cinnamon, and powdered. Other favorites include the maple bacon donut bar, raised yeast donut bar with maple frosting topped with crispy bacon, and red velvet cake donut topped with a sweet cream cheese frosting.

Downtown donut: hole lotta gourmet going on

Whack? It’s written clear across the window of this new donut place I’ve run across on B Street downtown. Okay, it is in the afternoon. But not that late.

I have to go in. “We usually run out around eleven in the morning,” says this guy. Santiago Campa. “It has been crazy ever since we opened, March 28th.”

It seems these guys do gourmet donuts with far out favors like ones soaked in Jim Beam whisky, and ones that look like mini birthday cakes. “We have also mimicked a New York invention called the ‘cronut,’ says Santiago. “Croissant meets donut. Thin pastry in eight folds. It melts in your mouth.”

He says he’s from a background in hotels like the Four Seasons, but wanted to break out on his own.

He and his partner Wendy Bartels decided there was a big, uh, hole in the gourmet level of the donut market.

“We looked in LA, Orange County for the perfect spot. But I’m from San Diego. So one day I just got my bike and started riding around downtown and asking people. And I swear, everyone would look at me like they were totally frustrated and said “We don’t have a donut shop downtown. It sucks!’ So that’s how come we decided on this location.”

The sign on the window sure seems like evidence they were right.

Man. I’ve got to come back. As I’m leaving, Javier Jiménez, Santiago’s partner from Seven Café around the corner comes in and starts cutting holes in pastry.

“We’re combining forces on our version of the cronut,” Santiago says. “We call it the ‘Cro’Bar.’ Honestly. You’ve got to try it.”

Here Are Nine Cronut Imposters From Around the World

Since imitation is the sincerest form of something or other, here are nine totally fake knockoffs of Dominique Ansel's famous doughnut/croissant hybrid, the Cronut. The word "cronut" is trademarked by Ansel, so most of these go by other names variations on "dossant" and "doissant" are popular. And this isn't just happening in the US: Australia and the Philippines have gotten in on the fake cronut action as well. Even Pillsbury is trying to get in on the action by providing a recipe for "Crescent Doughnuts." Last week in an interview with Eater, Ansel addressed the imposters, saying that he was "very flattered to be an inspiration for people." But his lawyer "says something else." Below, nine copycats that strive for greatness.

[Photo: thebridegene / Instagram]

MoVida, Melbourne, Australia

Calling it the "dossant," MoVida baker Michael James tells GoodFood, "It's definitely Dominique Ansel's idea. We're not trying to hide that fact. If anyone asks about it at the bakery, we'll definitely tell them the inspiration came from New York. I don't know what his recipe is we just make it our way and finish it off with our own interpretation."

San Diego's Donut Bar posted a photo of the "dossant" from MoVida to Facebook, noting "We are going to do our best to "benchmark' Chef Dominique Ansels' creation. Our hopes are to perfect this "croissant meets donut" concoction early this week. Stay tuned for our yummy spin on this INSTANT CLASSIC!"

[Photo: sushiwoogie / Instagram]

Wildflour Cafe + Bakery, Manila, Philippines

Cronuts have made it all the way to the Philippines. Wildflour confirms they're selling these chocolate-topped numbers on their Facebook page. ?120 Philippines pesos is about US $2.86.

[Photo: @chococrustdc / Twitter]

Chocolate Crust, Washington DC

Per their Facebook page, Chocolate Crust is also on the "doissant" train: "We've made it happen people! This our frat batch of the croissant and donut mix and we are calling them doissants. Chocolate croissant base with hazelnut cream inside and a pistachio topping. (Cronut is trademarked.) Still testing out recipes and batches but stop by later today or tomorrow for one of these crazy decadent creationsn. [sic]"

[Photo: tuffbubble / Instagram]

Tony's Donut House, Huntington Park, California

Spotted on Instagram, this is a Boston Cream-flavored take on a cronut.

[Photo: mylastbite / Instagram]

Roxana Jullapat's Cronots

Pastry chef Roxana Jullapat of Cooks County in LA made what got called "cronots" on Instagram, although it seems like they were for a private tasting and not for sale. Yet: Los Angeles Magazines notes, "Jullapat won't be throwing them on the menu until she feels her recipe is perfect."

[Photo: Pillsbury]

The Pillsbury Salted Caramel Crescent Doughnut

Want to make cronut imposters using all-Pillsbury ingredients? Sure, why not. SFist also did a take using premade dough.

[Photo: @CircleCitySweet / Twitter]

Circle City Sweets, Indianapolis

Here's another "dossant" at Circle City Sweets in Indianapolis. They note via Facebook, "Friday. 8am. First public selling of our version of the "cronut". Or as we call them "doissants". You can't get these anywhere else." Except, you know, from Dominique Ansel.

Cake, cronuts, and crullers at Peterson's Donut Corner

One of the hallmarks of 21st century foodie-ism in America has been the reinvention of specialty food shops. In addition to the advent of businesses dedicated to perfecting the likes of cupcakes, pickles, and hot dogs, we’ve seen elevated takes on at longstanding classics, such as coffee shops, butcher shops, and ice cream parlors. Perhaps the most ubiquitous has been the gourmet donut shop.


Peterson's Donut Corner

903 S Escondido Blvd, Escondido

Locally, North Park’s Nomad Donuts leads the way with culturally expansive creations, such as ube coconut donut, and legitimately fantastic vegan donuts. Nearby Streetcar Merchants offers large donuts topped with popular breakfast cereals, and Devil’s Donuts in Little Italy is prone to doing things like make a day’s worth of donuts inspired by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors.

I’m generally of the belief advancements in donut culture equate to advancements in American culture, but every once in a while I’m reminded that many of our social media obsessions are repackaging something that was pretty great to begin with. So it went during a recent Escondido excursion, for the purpose of seeking out Peterson’s Donut Corner.

For the better part of four decades, Peterson’s has operated as a 24/7 donut shop, and it’s created the largest assortment of donuts and breakfast pastries I’ve ever encountered. Muffins, fritters, streusel, cinnamon rolls, turnovers, butter logs, and cream puffs demonstrate the many ways dough and sugar can be made delicious. Better yet, most sell for under 2 dollars apiece, even the massive twists, roughly the size of my forearm. Ten kinds of muffins, including peach walnut and blueberry bran, go for $2.25, while humongous bear claws go for $2.85. The priciest single item, at $.70 per pound, is the Texas-style donut, which must be ordered 24 hours in advance, and comes out the size of a birthday cake. Conversely, the cheapest items, donut holes, cost 15 cents each.

Customers order from a patio counter window, so all the donuts etc. are presented through windows that continue around the side of the shop. I recommend spending a few minutes doing so before you get to the front of the line, and taking notes about what looks good to you. Because all of it will look good to you.

I stuck entirely with donuts, and it took me minutes to decide. The chocolate glazed raised donut was an easy choice, and I expected it to be the best of the bunch. I did like it better than the maple old fashioned, which treated the maple glaze more like cake frosting, generously applied and a little too sweet for my taste. But beyond that I was in for a few surprises.

The cake donut likewise featured cake frosting, and I ordered mine covered in crushed peanuts. Not only were the nuts the way to go, but this was absolutely the finest cake donut I’ve eaten. It truly is cake-like, perhaps a little denser, but more moist than crumbly. (An old fashioned is similar to a cake donut, but with a crispier surface due to its vaguely flying saucer-like shape).

Next up was a French cruller, similar to the raised donut, but likewise with a crispier surface brought about by its braided twist appearance. Part of the joy here was that I went with the pink zebra cruller, so-called for its delightfully fruity strawberry glaze, striped with drizzles of chocolate. A few years ago, this would have been my favorite of the bunch.

However, just because Peterson’s has been doing donuts well for almost forty years, doesn’t mean it’s a slave to convention. I didn’t recognize it at first, because here the square-shaped donuts are called Peterson Pillows, but the place makes everybody’s favorite latter-day donut hybrid: the cronut. For $2.95, it’s constructed with the laminated dough of a croissant, but fried and glazed like a donut. It’s light, flakey, buttery, doughy, and crispy, all at once.

Peterson’s Donut Corner could use a paint job, but otherwise I’d say it stands up to newer, instagrammable generation of donut shops. And since donuts here start at $1.20 apiece, it’s well worth a visit, any time of day, when in Escondido.

The World's First Interactive Cronut-Finding Map

You know the Cronut story: it all started in New York, but almost immediately, knock-offs began appearing in fryers all around the country and beyond. First, San Diego fell. Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and London all followed. They've even invaded our dreams, causing us to hallucinate all sorts of other magical pastry hybrid possibilities (dangels, anyone? Anyone. ).

These international faux-nuts (Singapore, represent!) might go by all sorts of un-trademarked names -- from Doughssants, to Croissnuts, to Cro-Nots -- but the flaky, cream-filled gut-bombs are undeniably Cronuts, which is why we decided to make an interactive Google Map plotting all the places you can get them. Most of these locations can be traveled to in less time than it takes to wait for one at Dominique Ansel on an NYC weekend morning. Mess around with the map here on!

Dominique Ansel Bakery, New York, NY
The one, the only, the trademarked: the original Cronut.

Clafouti Patisserie et Cafe, Toronto, ON, CA
This Toronto bakery tossed the "doughnut" bit and instead paired buttery croissant with something even better -- Oreo cookies. Behold, the Crookie.

Potito's Bakery, Philadelphia, PA
Potito's Bakery is cooking up Do-Cros: enormous cinnamon croissants that are chopped in half, slathered with cream filling, and topped with sweet icing.

Swiss Haus Bakery, Philadelphia, PA
The civilized bakers at Swiss Haus coined their elegant creation -- one of the best faux-nuts we've seen -- the Cro-Creme.

Donut Bar, San Diego, CA
If you thought combining croissants and doughnuts was revolutionary, check out the bakery that's doing just that. in a square shape!

La Boulangerie, Chicago, IL
The crognet is the move at both outposts of this Chi-town bakery: a simple, flakey, Boston cream 'nut with custard filling.

Dunkin’ who? Doughnut wars about to heat up

As Alyssa Batey helps customers, Dominique Edwards fills a box with doughnuts at a Dunkin‘ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins in San Diego.

An employee pours a cup of coffee at the Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store in San Diego located adjacent to the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay and across from Seaport Village.

Sayra Manjarrez pours a cup of coffee one morning at the Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store in San Diego located adjacent to the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay and across from Seaport Village.

An employee pours a cup of iced coffee at the Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store in San Diego located adjacent to the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay and across from Seaport Village.

The Egg White Flat is one of the many items on the breakfast menu at the Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store in San Diego adjacent to the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay and across from Seaport Village.

The interior of the Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store in San Diego adjacent to the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay and across from Seaport Village.

People walk by the outdoor patio of the Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store in San Diego adjacent to the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay and across from Seaport Village.

A man drinks his morning coffee on outdoor patio of the Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store in San Diego located adjacent to the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay and across from Seaport Village.

Alyssa Batey fills a box with doughnuts at the Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store in San Diego adjacent to an Embassy Suites across from Seaport Village. The company has plans for 1,000 locations in California.

A box of a doughnuts tempts at a Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins across from Seaport Village in San Diego.

Vanilla Glazed Cronut with Red Velvet Crumbs is served at D K's in Orange. The donuts-croissant cross is a popular menu item.

Donut Bar founder Santiago Campa had no interest in having another location, but a persuasive Hector Garcia won him over with his passion for an Orange County site.

Mayly Tao, co-owner of DK's Donuts in Santa Monica, playfully displays her store's glazed, toasted coconut O-Nut, left, and gooey cinnamon O-Nut.

DK's Donuts CEO/pastry chef Adam Vaun wanted to help his parents with their business. “I could buy them a house and a car and still be indebted to them,” Vaun says. He is the son of immigrant Cambodian parents who opened up shop after arriving in the U.S. in the late 1980s.

Mayly Tao, co-owner of DK's Donuts in Santa Monica holds her hybrid "Wow-Nut," a waffle donut. She christened this flavor the "Birthday Sprinkles." Tao is hoping the pastry will be the start of something really big. It's the latest in the donut and waffle mashup craze. The family-owned donut shop has been on Santa Monica Boulevard for 33 years.

Creme Brûlée has a hard sugar shell at Donut Bar in Fountain Valley. “Everyone was running around like the sky was falling,” San Diego doughnut shop owner Campa said when Dunkin' Donuts arrived in March.

A cutaway shot of an ube waffle with Hawaiian coconut glaze and toasted coconut reveals a purple-colored center. DK's Donuts in Santa Monica unveiled a new hybrid -- the Wow-Nut, a waffle donut. Co-owner Mayly Tao says this Wow-Nut flavor is her favorite.

Mayly Tao, co-owner of DK's Donuts in Santa Monica, looks over her varied offerings of "O-Nuts" including flavors like, from left, Nutella strawberry and banana, maple bacon and original flavor.

It's a family at DK's Donuts in Orange: administrator Ly Vaun, left, with daughter Kaliyana Chagollan, her dad, Sahak Vaun mother Lauren Vaun brother/CEO Adam Vaun and cousin/pastry chef Jaymes Ngoy.

The Elvis Bacon, a tribute to Elvis' favorite sandwich, banana and peanut butter, topped with bacon bits, center. It is a standout at DK's Donuts in Orange. The popular Orange shop has been family-run for 30 years.

Part of the menu at the Dunkin‘ Donuts/Baskin-Robbins store in San Diego located adjacent to the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay and across from Seaport Village.

In Southern California, where restaurant chains and health fads are a way of life, doughnut shops are a cultural oddity &ndash a food frontier dominated by families eking out a living, one glazed treat at a time.

For years, nearly 700 doughnut shops &ndash from Los Angeles to Anaheim &ndash have bucked the system. Like a well-balanced ecosystem, they&rsquove managed to co-exist among corporate giants like McDonald&rsquos and 7-Eleven.

Everyone has a street-corner favorite.

DK&rsquos. D & K. The Donut Man. The Donuttery. Miss Donuts. Randy&rsquos. Spudnuts. Donut Star. Jax. Donut King. Baker&rsquos Dozen.

But these mom-and-pop shops are bracing for an East Coast storm with hurricane strength: Dunkin&rsquo Donuts. The doughnut giant is marching West with 1,000 locations planned in California. More than 80 are in the works for the greater Los Angeles area.

Three have opened in San Diego, Camp Pendleton and Barstow.

&ldquoEveryone was running around like the sky was falling,&rdquo San Diego doughnut shop owner Santiago Campa said when Dunkin&rsquo arrived in March.

After retreating from California in the 1990s, Dunkin&rsquos latest attack is strategic. Chain officials believe they can win on price, breakfast variety and convenience. Many will have drive-through lanes and be open 24 hours.

Dunkin&rsquo is also betting on a secret weapon that doesn&rsquot involve deep-fried dough.

&ldquoThe intensity of doughnut competition in Los Angeles, and even California, is something we are really excited by,&rdquo said Steve Rafferty, senior director of franchising at Dunkin&rsquo Brands. &ldquoIt tells us this is a customer base that loves doughnuts.&rdquo

&ldquoBut we know we can offer more than that.&rdquo

Rafferty calls it love. Butobsessivemight be a better way to characterize Southern California&rsquos passion for old-fashioneds. We seem to crave sugary deep-fried treats more than Big Macs and grande Frappuccinos.

Consider: Orange County is home to 259 doughnut shops. That&rsquos 163 more locations than McDonald&rsquos and 91 more than Starbucks. In Los Angeles County, doughnut shops outnumber Starbucks cafes by 144.

In Orange County, clusters are common. One 6-mile stretch of Chapman Avenue in Orange is home to seven doughnut shops.

&ldquoThey&rsquore like nail salons. There&rsquos one on every block,&rdquo said Los Angeles restaurant consultant Janet Lowder.

Adam Vaun&rsquos DK&rsquos Donuts is a few blocks from Friendly Donuts in Orange. He said the shops manage to co-exist because there&rsquos enough demand.

&ldquoIt&rsquos a friendly competition. That&rsquos the great thing about doughnuts &ndash they appeal to everyone. Our demographic is from age 3 to 103,&rdquo Vaun said.

Vaun, 28, is the son of immigrant Cambodian parents who took up doughnut-making when they arrived in the U.S. in the late 1980s. During the recession, he took over the business.

In recent months, whispers about Dunkin&rsquo Donuts&rsquo arrival have hit a crescendo &ndash prompting Vaun to consider his options.

&ldquoWe&rsquore not taking (Dunkin&rsquo) lightly,&rdquo he said. &ldquoIt&rsquos something (to push) us mom and pops to get our game up.&rdquo

To shake things up, Vaun has added more gourmet doughnuts to the menu to appeal to Instagram-loving Millennials. During last summer&rsquos Cronut craze, he introduced the Cresnut &ndash his version of the croissant-doughnut mashup made famous in New York.

DK&rsquos also offers online ordering and is considering launching a late night happy hour.

&ldquoIf we stay true to ourselves, and build relationships, we&rsquore not so worried,&rdquo Vaun said. &ldquoWe&rsquove been here 30 years. We must be doing something right.&rdquo

Lowder, a restaurant and hospitality instructor at UCLA, said mom-and-pop shops should fare well when Dunkin&rsquo arrives because most of their customers are habitual.

&ldquoThere may be some fallout, but I don&rsquot think it will be major,&rdquo she said.

Dutch Kramer of Tustin said he would never betray the doughnuts made by Mao Ly, the friendly 18-year owner of DK&rsquos Donuts in Tustin. Kramer buys a different doughnut every visit. On this day, he&rsquos nibbling a twisty chocolate cinnamon Tiger Tail.

&ldquoI&rsquom from Boston. I know Dunkin&rsquo Donuts, big time. Personally, these (DK&rsquos) doughnuts are 100 times better,&rdquo said Kramer, 71.

Ly, who is also the store&rsquos chief baker, said Dunkin&rsquos return will add stress to an already challenging job that involves 12-hour days, midnight baking and no days off.

And when he does sleep, the 51-year-old father of four says he dreams about work.

&ldquoWe are worried very much,&rdquo he said. &ldquoIn the middle of the night, I see a lot of doughnuts out there.&rdquo

Fifty miles away, Santa Monica doughnut shop owner Mayly Tao is fearless.

She&rsquos been &ldquovamping up&rdquo her DK&rsquos Donuts & Bakery menu with trendsetting treats. The Santa Monica Boulevard shop, unrelated to Vaun&rsquos and Ly&rsquos businesses, has earned media buzz for its ube (Filipino purple yam) and mashup doughnuts. Last summer, Tao claimed to be the first shop in Los Angeles to offer Double Decker O-Nuts, a version of the trademarked Cronut.

The shop&rsquos latest hipster hybrid is the Wow-Nut, a waffle-doughnut. Hollywood hotshots are noticing. Tao, 24, has recently taken large catering orders from TV host and radio personality Ryan Seacrest and Fox television.

&ldquoWe&rsquove been going with more trends and experimenting all the time,&rdquo said Tao, who runs DK&rsquos with her 27-year-old brother, Sean.

She welcomes the Dunkin&rsquo invasion.

&ldquoThey will be the McDonald&rsquos of doughnuts, but we&rsquoll be upscale. It will put us in a whole other category,&rdquo she said.

At The Donuttery in Huntington Beach, owner-baker Ty Chhan said his loyal customers won&rsquot let him down. His bestsellers are blueberry cake doughnuts as well as limited-edition specials. Two weeks ago, he introduced a yeast-raised, all chocolate doughnut stuffed with dulce de leche cream.

&ldquoWe follow what&rsquos hot in the market,&rdquo said Chhan, 41, whose two sisters also run doughnut shops in Carson and Bakersfield.

Sen Do, owner of Miss Donuts in Anaheim, Lomita, Garden Grove and La Palma, said history will repeat itself. Dunkin&rsquo and Krispy Kreme invasions both tried and failed before in Southern California.

&ldquoWe beat them already from California,&rdquo said Do. &ldquoNow they want to come back? I don&rsquot know why.&rdquo

San Diego frenzy reveals secret

Dunkin&rsquo Donuts has lined up franchisees for locations in San Fernando Valley, Orange County, the South Bay, Santa Monica, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

The first of those shops is expected to debut by year&rsquos end, and with it will come thunderous buzz, bragging rights and long lines.

In San Diego, the first of 25 stores planned for the area opened in March.

Santiago Campa, whose upscale Donut Bar operates a mile away, witnessed the frenzy.

&ldquoI was thinking, &lsquoDamn, they are going to crush us.&rsquo&rdquo

Donut Bar&rsquos San Diego and Fountain Valley shops source top-notch ingredients such as Jim Beam bourbon and Vermont maple syrup for its monster-size, 6-inch doughnuts. The flagship San Diego shop sells about 2,000 gourmet doughnuts a day. Prices range from $1 to $4.

Though Donut Bar is extremely popular, Campa said the deep corporate pockets at Dunkin&rsquo rattled him, at first. On Dunkin&rsquos third day of business, Campa jumped in line. During his 30-minute wait, something struck him.

&ldquoPeople were really going after their drinks,&rdquo he said. &ldquoDoughnuts seemed secondary.&rdquo

In 2013, Dunkin&rsquo Donuts sold more than 1.8 billion cups of hot and iced coffee around the world. In the U.S., coffee and other beverages make up about 60 percent of its sales.

Stephen Anderson, a restaurant analyst at Miller Tabak in New York, said doughnuts are not the main prize in California.

&ldquoCoffee is the battleground,&rdquo Anderson said. &ldquoThey know California likes their coffee.&rdquo

Lowder, who owns Restaurant Management Services in Rancho Palos Verdes, agrees. &ldquoI think the big impact is going to be on Starbucks.&rdquo

Dunkin&rsquos Rafferty said coffee is a key part of the company&rsquos California strategy. The java-loving state is Dunkin&rsquos top market for packaged coffee sales.

&ldquoGuests might come in for the doughnuts, but they stay for the coffee,&rdquo he said. &ldquoWe sell more coffee by the cup than anybody.&rdquo

In San Diego, Campa said Dunkin&rsquos doughnuts didn&rsquot impress, but the coffee gave hime pause.

&ldquoIt&rsquos very drinkable,&rdquo he said.

His recon mission triggered him to switch to Stumptown Coffee, a popular Portland roaster. The change, made a month ago at both shops, has led to a 75 percent spike in coffee sales.

&ldquoWe&rsquove upped our coffee game, and I have to say part of it was because Dunkin&rsquo is in town,&rdquo Campa said.

So is the sky still falling?

Campa said once the Dunkin&rsquo hype wore off, he found no need to duck and cover. A Facebook confession by a fan also gave him encouragement.

It said: &ldquoSorry Donut Bar, I cheated on you. But I promise to be back.&rdquo

[WXPIC] Why We Love San Diego Gallery II

VG Donuts & Bakery (Cardiff-by-the-Sea)
Although peeking through the window here reveals delicious wedding cakes and cookies, don’t be fooled. This bakery is all about the donuts and the line of locals in the morning proves it. The coastal community comes from miles around for the red velvet and vanilla coconut cake variety. The obsession for the raspberry and strawberry jelly-filled donut is a common affliction, too. Get them while you can.

Donut Stop (Torrey Hills/Mira Mesa)
Break open that piggy bank: this pastry heaven is cash only. Regulars hang out and play chess over coffee while customers stock up on their favorites. The blueberry donut gets rave reviews here and the cream-filled concoction also has a huge fan base. Traditional options like maple bars and apple fritters will fill out your baker’s dozen, and don’t forget to throw in a couple of donut holes.

Donut Touch (Scripps Ranch)
It’s a mirage near a gas station, filled with cake-like concoctions that will make you fill up more than the tank of your car. Grab a dozen and make sure you include the popular bear claw and a few crullers. You’ll also find bacon maple bars, fritters, birthday cake donuts with sprinkles and old-fashioned donuts. It’s a pit stop that you’ll want to make more than once.

Trish Sanderson is the community manager and marketing director for Yelp North County San Diego. She leads the local community of Yelp reviewers both online and off.

Watch the video: Trying The DONUT BAR In Las Vegas! (December 2021).