Metro, Food

In Brookline, Union Square Donuts Draws Ravenous Crowds

Opening morning on Jan. 19 was a sight to behold. The line for Union Square Donuts, a new facet of the Brookline community, stretched for blocks and blocks with customers waiting to sink their sugar-hungry lips into this early-morning staple. An employee in this new Brookline location said it was so much more than they could have ever hoped.

Union Square Donuts, located on Harvard Street, is one of two locations that mark this four-year-old company’s success. Although it might not seem like a long time, the legacy that the Union Square Donuts co-founders, Josh Danoff and Heather Schmidt, quickly built around the brand’s original Somerville location is one that has long awaited expansion. This new location in Brookline has been open for just three weeks, and already has gotten an overwhelming response and support from the surrounding communities. Obviously, their move into the Brookline location has been awaited by donut lovers across the Boston area.

In the Boston food scene, an increasing emphasis on quality and unique foods have created a market that is as competitive as any other, but Union Square Donuts has responded accordingly. To ensure quality, Union Square Donuts sources its ingredients for its food from local suppliers. The maple, for example, comes from a family farm in Vermont, and the dairy comes from farms in Massachusetts. As for uniqueness, a breath of the aroma in the shop acts as evidence enough.

The typical smells of the morning donut preparation linger in the shop well into the afternoon. Customers can catch a whiff of the bacon sizzling in the pan, the sweet scent of maple syrup being poured, and even the starchy tang of the dough being prepared and cooked—and that is just the perfume arising from one donut in the shop.

But Union Square Donuts is more than just a delicious-smelling donut bakery—it’s a one-of-a-kind tasting experience. After you walk into the single door entrance, you are welcomed not only by the smells, but also by the sight of a large shining Italian cappuccino machine seated in front of racks and racks of freshly-made donuts. If you get in before the crowd, you see the flavors of the day laid out behind a clear glass display next to a large colorful wall mural.

Relaxing into the comfortable space, you can then focus on the choices of filled donuts, vegan donuts, cake donuts, yeast donuts, and donut holes. What exactly is the difference between donuts? Customers craving the classic “American” donut should order a dense and filling cake donut, but if they want a lighter option, then the airy yeast donut is the ideal choice. After selecting the type of donut comes the choice of flavor.

Because of their executive board, which researched and created the flavors rotating through the shop, Union Square Donuts has a variety of ever-changing flavors. Whether you like a classic chocolate donut, really want to feed your inner Bostonian with a Boston Crème, or want to have some fun and eat a birthday cake donut, this bakery has everything.

Even with the plethora of donut options, Union Square Donut’s maple bacon donut is the “bread and butter” of this eatery. Matt Olsen, the acting general manager at the Brookline Union Square Donuts, said that this donut has become so popular that for every other donut this shop sells, two maple bacon donuts are sold.

Once you order, you can sit down with your coffee or your milk in one of the tables off to the side of the store. There you can read your newspaper or tablet while enjoying the aromatic smell of freshly brewed coffee and sweet baking dough.

After carefully choosing your donuts, you can select a cold, refreshing glass of milk, or order a specialty coffee to complete the Union Square Donut experience.

Olsen gave some advice to people who want to experience this thrilling adventure first hand, explaining that while this community’s new staple is an experience for all, you do not need to wait for a group to try it out.

“You do not necessarily have to come here with a group like many other restaurants, sometimes it’s actually more of a pain,” Olsen said. “Coming alone is very common here because you can sit down, eat your donuts, drink your coffee, and read the paper before you start work.”  

When asked, “Why Brookline?” employees mentioned the sense of community as well as the vibrant Harvard Avenue location. The storefront was designed not only to feed people, but also to make them feel relaxed and excited before a day of work. And with a Union Square Donut confection sitting in front of you, feeling relaxed is really the only possible option.

Featured Image by Vaughn Feighan

February 9, 2017