The Dapper Doughnut is serving up small bites of sweetness
The scent of freshly made hot doughnuts wafting throughout The Dapper Doughnut in Hempfield is enough to make one fall off that new year's resolution diet wagon.
Luckily, the 1669 New Stanton-Ruffsdale Road, Hunker store, which opened Dec. 8, serves mini doughnuts, single one- or two-bite pastries one can easily justify alongside a cup of coffee.
One mini doughnut with sugar only is 70 calories, says Kristen Hull, who runs the business with her husband, Darryl Hull.
It's narrowing one's selection from toppings - like blueberry lemon, chocolate peanut butter, birthday cake and s'more, along with seasonal choices - that may cause a bit of a craving struggle.
"The most popular are cinnamon sugar and chocolate peanut butter so far," Kristen Hull says.
The trend toward bite-size doughnuts is apparent throughout the region, including several Peace, Love and Little Donuts locations.
They show up on farmers' market and recipe websites and populate Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
The couple, both 35, opened their franchise, which employs eight, after considering several options for their own business.
"I liked the idea of independence but with back-up - not having to do it all on my own," Kristen Hull says.
After 15 years in the financial advising industry, she was ready for a change, says the mother of two girls, ages 7 and 2.
She left her job a few months ago, while Darryl Hull continues to work for Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin.
"I grew up in the kitchen of my grandparents, baking," the New Stanton resident says.
"I always wanted my own business. There is no coffee shop around here. I lost my passion for finance and I wanted to go back to what was comfortable for me," she says.
The couple discovered The Dapper Doughnut online while researching the pros and cons of a start-up versus a franchise.
"It was love at first sight," she says.
They plan to extend their evening hours, after discovering people like to come in after work or bring their children in to design their own doughnuts.
"We have doughnut milkshakes (served with a doughnut speared through the straw) that kids go crazy about," Hull says.
The cafe's back room also has a community library, with books for kids and grown-ups that can be perused during a visit or borrowed.
The Hulls bought and renovated the former restaurant and bar, which closed five years ago.
The couple did most of the work themselves, with the help of friends and family.
"We have a mobile unit we take on location," Hull says.
They can make doughnuts for holiday and school parties, baby and wedding showers, and offer doughnut truffles, injected with flavors and dipped in Belgian chocolate.
"That's a popular fundraiser," she says.
What's the appeal of these tiny doughnuts?
Their size and freshness are important factors, Hull says.
"I wanted to take a traditional doughnut and put a modern spin on it. It's never made and sitting on a shelf. It's made in front of you. But you have to decrease the size to offer that quality," she says.
On a recent visit, customers were about evenly divided among those taking their doughnuts to go and those who enjoyed their treats at a table.
Hull hopes more business and social meetings will take place in the cafe.
"We would prefer people come in and stay for a while," she says.
Prices start at $3.75 for half a dozen mini doughnuts.
Details: 724-635-0024 or thedapperdoughnut.com/new-stanton.