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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 6 years ago

Sweet dreams: La Dona Donuts' new store

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Chelsea Elliott is cooking up success — one doughnut at a time
by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

The smell of maple bacon and doughnut glaze wafts into the parking lot from La Dona Donuts. Owner Chelsea Elliott has worked through the night preparing this morning’s batch of gourmet cake-batter doughnuts, but you’d never know it.

She emerges from the kitchen of her newly opened storefront on Bee Ridge Road, smiling as she greets a customer. The long hours are a small price to pay, she says. Owning her own doughnut shop has been her dream for years; it’s what brought her back to Sarasota from Baltimore last year to open her delivery service.

Three weeks ago, she finally opened the store, and her biggest problem so far has been keeping up with demand.

Her rotating selection of doughnuts, including mouth-watering options like dulce de leche, breakfast cereal and the customer-favorite — maple bacon — have been selling faster than she can cook them.

“I’m actually trying to not sell out,” she says. “I want everyone who wants a doughnut to be able to get one.”

We sat down with Elliott to talk about the new store, her plans for the future and which doughnuts she can’t keep her hands off.

“I got really lucky. I was expecting to spend a lot of time looking for a location I liked, but this was actually the first place I looked at. It already had the kitchen in it, and there was a hood and a huge refrigerator. It was perfect.”

“It’s exactly like I envisioned. I had this drawing I’d done a while back to show people my concept, and this is almost identical. I had a vision for a long time of what I wanted to do, and it’s finally all come together.”

“I knew I was onto something after an event I did in Gulf Gate. People came from all over the place — as far away as Bradenton and Venice. I sold out in an hour.”

“It didn’t really hit me that it was real until people started sitting down and eating their orders in the shop. Now I’ve got a lot of regulars, and people like to come back and see our new flavors each week.”

“It’s a labor-intensive process. It takes about 24 hours to get from dough to countertop. All the doughnuts are made fresh in-house every day.”

“I think people like the nostalgia of doughnuts. It brings back childhood memories for a lot of people. I think that’s why our cereal-topped doughnuts are so popular.”

“Our maple bacon doughnuts are definitely the most popular. They always sell out first. I love the dulce de leche ones. I kind of can’t help myself. If I’m making a batch of those, I’m probably going to end up eating one.”

“People like that it’s something different. It’s definitely not your regular cake or yeast doughnut. I love t to see how excited people are. They’ve been driving in from all over. It’s been unbelievable.”

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