When Donut Savant announced last year that it was closing, hearts broke all over the Bay Area — or at least all over social media. The 1934 Broadway shop had remained faithful to its mission of “redefining donuts in Oakland” since 2012, cranking out small batches of sweet-smelling, picture-perfect doughnuts hot and fresh from the fryers for over seven years. They were some of the Bay Area’s tastiest doughnuts and also some of the smallest — closer to a doughnut hole than a full-size doughnut, so that a customer could try three or four different flavors for just a couple of bucks. And then they were gone.
Until now, that is: After a yearlong absence, Donut Savant will reopen this month in a brand new shop at 3000 38th Avenue in Allendale, a mostly residential neighborhood between East Oakland’s Fruitvale and Laurel districts.
In fact, while owner and chief doughnut maker Laurel Davis says she was was sad to close up shop last fall, by that point she had already begun executing the next stage of her plan. Broadway was never meant to be Donut Savant’s permanent home; from the beginning Davis had leased it month-to-month, an agreement that wound up lasting far longer than expected.
“Because I knew it was owned by a developer…it was like a long-term temporary,” she says. So, when that developer served notice to vacate the property so that it could break ground on a 39-story mixed-use project, Davis had already secured the new spot in Allendale, a space formerly occupied by the King’s Coffee Shop.
Donut Savant employees have spent the past year getting new site into shape, doing everything themselves to keep construction costs low — and so that Davis could keep her staff employed when statewide shelter-in-place orders would have otherwise rendered them jobless. The crew is now ready to trade in their construction gear to get back to their first love: working with “high quality ingredients, executing at a high level, and feeding any and everybody,” as Davis puts it.
It was the quality, size, and price point that hurtled Savant’s doughnuts into a league of their own and earned them a loyal following. At the new shop, the handmade confections will be fried fresh throughout the day, as they were at the original location. Their small, two-bites-and-you’re-done size make them perfect for sampling a variety. Plus, by keeping the prices at around a dollar a pop, Davis remains committed to her belief that quality food should be accessible. High quality “doesn’t mean exclusive,” she says. “We shouldn’t have to leave Oakland to have a premium experience.”
Those familiar with the menu can expect all the old favorites, including Davis’s signature “cronts” (her take on a croissant-doughnut hybrid) and cronettes (the miniature version). The display case will be stocked with apple fritters and chocolate bombs — plus maybe a few curveballs. The store is set to open in early November, with the official hours and opening date to be announced later this week. The shop’s website and online ordering system (via Toast Tab) are ready for pre-orders. Customers will be able to grab their pre-ordered doughnuts from the pickup window or purchase them in person inside the store, where there is enough room for social distancing.
Davis’s idea of Allendale in three words? “Fresh, fun, and welcoming.” A great neighborhood, in other words, for Donut Savant to call home.