Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Donut Pub: Come See What It Takes to Make Dunkin' Run

Just looking in the window of The Donut Pub is a wonderful dining in New York experience
By Mitch Broder

In the new year, The Donut Pub will surely get new neighbors, but they won’t be Munchkins.

The Munchkins are gone till 2020.

Dunkin Donuts didn't survive down the street from The Donut Pub
Those would be the Munchkins of Dunkin’ Donuts, the chain that has 9,700 more stores than The Donut Pub, which has one. A Dunkin’ store moved in near The Donut Pub in 2007. It moved out months ago. All that’s left are Dunkin’ Doorknobs.

Dunkin’ technically had seniority. The chain began in 1950; The Donut Pub didn’t open till 1964. But by 2007, The Donut Pub had already knocked off one Dunkin’ Donuts. The neighborhood had cast its vote for a place that calls Munchkins “Donut Holes.”

That was in the late nineties. Yet Dunkin’ tried again a decade later, at 215 West 14th Street, just a few doors away. So it should be returning in about nine years, and gone again in four. America may run on Dunkin’, but New York stops at The Pub.

It stops there because The Pub has better doughnuts and better service, not to mention a better sign. But better isn’t always enough. I think The Pub wins because Dunkin’ Donuts feels like a place to get out of, while The Donut Pub feels like a place to come into.

Hot coffee and delicious donuts await New York diners at The Donut Pub

It has a counter where people nestle with a newspaper and two pastries, since they usually have two favorites and get both rather than choose. And it has counter people who want to please you, like Sam, who’s been there for twenty-six years, and Gus Markatos, who’s the manager but doesn’t let that stop him.

“I like interacting with people,” he told me. “When someone’s not in, I cover for them. I drink coffee, I eat doughnuts, I do everything.” Still, it’s the pastries that keep The Pub popular, he said. “We have the best black-and-white in the city,” he added. I still don’t know how he knew I would care.

Freshly made donuts are a staple of dining in New York at The Donut Pub
But he knew or guessed, and he brought me one. It seemed free at the time. But Gus is a businessman. He knew what he was doing. I’ve been back twice. The second time the cookies were just out of the oven and Sam had one frosted for me in all chocolate. That doesn’t happen at Dunkin’ Donuts.

But The Pub has always had doughnut competitors, at least till they’ve run out of dough. In the sixties doughnuts were everywhere, since back then they were good for you. There were shops all over the neighborhood, Gus said, including across the street. They were good for The Donut Pub. They provided target practice.

Decades later, the exalted Krispy Kreme arrived in the city. It opened its first store nine blocks away, in 1996. The company called itself “the biggest thing to hit New York since Nathan’s sold its first hot dog at Times Square.” The Pub would cream Krispy just the way it had sunk Dunkin’.

The Pub’s just plain inspirational, especially when you learn that one of its founders was a man named Buzzy Geduld. Buzzy went on to become a Wall Street trader who managed Herzog Heine Geduld until Merrill Lynch bought it in 2000 for about a billion dollars.

In short, you don’t mess with The Pub, even if you do have 9,700 stores. Sure, nearby stores display doughnuts — but only a couple of doughnuts.

As a Pub counter man said to me one night: “Why would you try to compete with a place that’s been here since ’64? Have some respect for the place.”

Night and day the Donut Pub serves all New York city diners.


  1. Love it...the pix...and "...the Pub would cream Krispy just the way it had sunk Dunkin'." Sweet!

  2. Hey Mitch,
    After reading this story I really need a donut and a coffee! The way you write you put me in the shop. Keep it up and keep it coming.

  3. When's the road trip? Indeed their sign is pretty excellent. Thanks!

  4. Too good -- "The Pub would cream Krispy just the way it had sunk Dunkin’." You are just plain inspirational. You were inspired. Especially like the shot of the pigeon coming in for a landing. Probably lookin' for crumbs. Nice touch. The entire article is a great read.

  5. It's worth a visit just for the Black and White. Only true New Yorkers know the joy of eating first the black then the white.