by Nancy Stiles
It's been a whirlwind year for Strange Donuts (2709 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood; 314-932-5851), which celebrates its first birthday on Saturday. The little Kickstarter that could turned into (after a few delays) a hit bakery in Maplewood, and within months announced expansions to Kirkwood and Columbia. As the Kirkwood bakery nears its opening, you can add collaborations with Brennan's and Seoul Taco to the list.
"We knew we wanted a second store, but Columbia started to present itself, and we started talking to David [Choi, of Seoul Taco] about a collaborative space because it hadn't been done," co-owner Corey Smale tells us. "The Central West End came up because we were going have Kirkwood and Maplewood, and we wanted to have one in the city."
The Central West End spot will be Strange Trap Kitchen, a collaboration with Brennan's. Smale describes it as more of a space to work on the doughnuts, experiment and improve. Corporate chef Mary Boehne has hired a French pastry chef (who, yes, is actually French) to work in that capacity. Customers will be able to see him putting finishing touches on the doughnuts, grab them to go or sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. You'll be able to get limited varieties of doughnuts from 7 to 11 a.m. at Strange Trap Kitchen. Expect it to be open in a month or two.
"That space will allow us to, or force us to elevate a little bit more, because it's such a nice space," he says. "We're going to have the opportunity to elevate the product even more, and it gives Mary and Strange itself an opportunity to do research and try out new flavors and perfect the ones we're already doing."
The Kirkwood location is on track to open October 22 at 6 a.m., and we're sure there will be a line around the block. It will keep the same hours as the Maplewood location, with late-night weekend hours. The Columbia location has also turned into a joint venture with Seoul Taco, just as it announced its own expansion plans.
"With Seoul Taco, they're a lot like us in the way they go about their business. Their concept is cool, innovative -- it's working," Smale says. "So we're both like, 'Let's just play aggressively and double down on what we got.' We've been busier than ever as of late."
For this Saturday's birthday celebration, expect free doughnuts, magic shows, balloons, a DJ at night and other surprises. This weekend's Stranger is a collaboration with Eckerts: Boehne has been poaching apples to roll in doughnut dough, fry, and roll in cinnamon and sugar. Follow on Facebook for more details.
Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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