Donut Wars in St. George: Room for everyone?
My grandpa was a baker. He owned four bakeries at one point and had carved a successful living out of getting up early and making donuts for the folks in American Fork and other northern Utah towns.
I grew up in Texas, so I did not have the occasion to see my grandpa that often, but when we we did visit Utah it was little kid heaven.
Grandpa was also American Fork's fire chief, so the visits usually revolved around rides in the fire truck, free bottled soda out of the vending machine in his store and the pervasive, unmistakable, hypnotically delicious smell of donuts and other pastries being baked or fried.
Nowadays, when I walk into a bakery, it doesn't smell like pastries, it smells like my youth.
So no one is more delighted to see the emerging donut shop war in the city of St. George than I am.
In one corner, there's old reliable, Daylight Donuts. You can still get a dozen donuts there for a reasonable price (nine bucks!). The donuts are good (of course, that's like saying water is wet), and owner Diana Thatcher has experimented as far as she's allowed (Daylight is restricted by its franchise affiliation) with different flavor combinations.
Daylight is unpretentious, reliable and permanent. You always know you're getting a solid product at a fair price, but don't expect any surprises or much in the way of specialty pastries.
Daylight Donuts is like an old friend. It feels like it will always be there, even if you go off with your new friends for awhile. When you're done, Daylight will be patiently waiting.
Located on North Bluff Street, Daylight has the West side of town cornered. Corporate meetings know they can count on their old friend.
In a second corner, there's The Donut Run. Just down the street from Desert Hills High School in Bloomington, TDR features the usual amazing pastries, including a phenomenal blueberry-cinnamon crumb that will take your breath away (not lying, I am craving the one that's sitting at home waiting for me right now).
Founded by former Desert Hills pitching coach Brandon Turley (also a former special ed teacher at Virgin Valley in Mesquite), The Donut Run has a surprise you may not normally find in a donut shop: the Kolache.
Google says "It's 'ko-lah-chee.' ... Czech pastries made of a yeast dough and usually filled with fruit, but sometimes cheese or meat.
The Kolaches at TDR are savory and delish, with flavors like sausage, egg and cheese (for breakfast) and pizza or pulled pork (for lunch).
The kolache is a big hit in northern Utah (especially Provo/Orem) and are huge in Texas (of all places), and I'm so glad Turley and TDR have brought them to St. George (maybe ebelskivers are next?).
In a third corner is the brand new entry into the donut market here in town, Pink Box Donuts. PBD made a big splash last Saturday with a huge grand opening party featuring prizes, mascots, music and long lines.
Pink Box (not surprisingly) has very tasty treats, but bring your credit card with a large limit, because PBD is not cheap. Their motto, "So good you'll lick the box," has a dual meaning. The flavor makes you want to savor every morsel. But also, you need to squeeze every penny's worth after paying $19.99 a dozen for basic donuts (30 bucks a dozen for specialties).
Still, some of their specialty donuts are jaw-droppingly described on their website. For instance, The Pineapple Express -- Glazed pineapple cake rolled in toasted coconut and topped with pineapple cheesecake, whip cream and a cherry; and the
Gimme S’more -- Chocolate frosted raised shell filled with marshmallow whip and topped with graham cracker crumble and toasted marshmallow.
Holy cow! Now that's taking donuts to the next level. The Mr. Blueberry is in the running for the best donut I've ever tasted.
Located on the east end of St. George Boulevard (I believe the old Burger King building), Pink Box is still riding the buzz from its monster grand opening and the Vegas-based franchise has so much variety and flavor that it seems like it's here for the long haul.
Finally, in the fourth corner, a donut shop is on the verge of opening in Washington City.
Still under construction on the corner of Telegraph and 300 East, Doughnutsville will enter into the race/war with an idea of capturing the East side of town.
Obviously I haven't tried their product yet (although there is a Doughnutsville in Cedar City), their presence online makes it look like they are a more deli style store.
But in looking at the geographical spread of the four donut shops (North Bluff, Bloomington, East St. George Boulevard, Telegraph in Washington) it seems like all four places should be able to survive.
"It seems like our locations are such that we can all survive," TDR's Turley said. "I hope so. There's plenty of room for all of us."