Updated: Sept. 15, 2014 at 8:03 p.m.
Outside District Doughnut’s new aqua-blue-and-white storefront, a titan of a man with bulging muscles stands and devours a doughnut tailor-made for his size.
Bobby Goodfellow – a bacon enthusiast and the inspiration for the Goodfellow Doughnut – celebrated the grand opening of District Doughnut at 749 8th St. SE on Friday with a custom Goodfellow just for him.
Early in District Doughnut’s rise to local fame, Goodfellow, who is chef Christine Schaefer’s Crossfit trainer, introduced the owners to people in D.C.’s culinary community, which helped land the company’s name in local newspapers.
“I made some things happen,” Goodfellow said through a mouthful of his namesake. “And it was worth it.”
The light, chewy doughnut is infused with crispy bits of bacon that offset the rich Nutella ganache, which coats the top of the Goodfellow underneath a heaping mound of bacon.
“I’d say it has to be three pounds or so,” Schaefer said.
District Doughnut officially opened Sept. 12, though it has held soft openings Friday evenings for the past month. After almost three years operating as a catering business, moving from locations in Alexandria, Va. and Gaithersburg, Md. to it’s recent home in Union Kitchen, District Doughnut’s shop on Barracks Row is the first brick-and-mortar establishment for owners Greg Menna and Juan Pablo Segura.
Friday at 9 a.m. – just an hour after the opening – the line stretched down the block. Itching for their first cup of coffee of the day, fans from near and far waited outside for their turn to step into the tiny store.
The smart ones planned ahead. People dressed in business casual zipped through the line to pick up their pre-orders and emerged with boxes of delicate fist-sized doughnuts to share with the office – or maybe just to snack on during the commute to work.
Unlike the Goodfellow, which was roughly the size of its muse’s heavily-bearded face, typical District Doughnuts are manageably proportioned: big enough that you won’t feel ripped off after paying about $3 a doughnut, but small enough that you won’t feel guilty about ordering two.
The shop, which serves drinks from local roaster Compass Coffee, is carving out its place among a small handful of other doughnut-based eateries, like GBD and Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, in a city best known for cupcakes.
Menna busied himself Friday with handing out samples to those who did not have the foresight to order ahead. Laden with trays of of glazed doughnuts – speckled with vanilla bean – the owner told the crowd that this was the company’s first attempt at the classic glaze.
“We couldn’t do it until we had the store,” Menna said as customers snatched the samples from the trays.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Schaefer was confronting a “small disaster.”
An hour and a half into opening and with approximately 1,200 doughnuts prepared, the Brown Butter doughnut was already sold out. It’s become the most popular menu item thanks in part to a Washington Post article published last year that ranked District Doughnut as the second-best spot for doughnuts in D.C.
While the team talked about heating up the fryers to make a new batch, one devoted customer reached for the display doughnut warming in the sun in the front window before being told the frosting-striped commodity may be a bit past its prime.
By the time it took Goodfellow to lick the final smears of Nutella ganache off his fingers, a wave of customers had picked up their sweets. At 10:30 a.m., they were completely sold out – a promising sign that District Doughnut’s new store is here to stay.
And while the flavor selection is limited, speciality doughnuts will rotate on the menu, and the owners hope to soon offer more savory options and even ice cream.
– Brown Butter
– Dulce de Leche
– Cannoli Doughnut
– Caramel Apple Streusel
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly referred to Menna, a male, as a female. We regret this error.