West Berkeley’s artisan doughnut shop, Doughnut Dolly, closed its doors Sunday after a rent dispute with its landlord Donahue Schriber, as first reported by Berkeleyside.
The shop had a full house on its final day; it was entirely sold out of doughnuts by 1:30 p.m. The announcement of its closing came as a shock to customers, according to owner Hannah Hoffman.
“People were very conciliatory and sad to lose their neighborhood doughnut shop where they felt welcomed,” Hoffman said.
The original Doughnut Dolly opened in Temescal, a neighborhood in Oakland, in 2012, followed by the Berkeley location in 2014 and the San Francisco Twitter building location in November 2016. Both the Temescal and San Francisco locations remain open.
But Hoffman started selling doughnuts before she had an official storefront. Before she opened her Oakland location, Hoffman hosted pop-ups with friends who had food trucks in the Bay Area.
“I started selling doughnuts on the streets of Oakland illegally in 2010,” Hoffman said. “I did what I could do via Facebook and Twitter (under) a different name. I started getting some press, so I was popping up and going to street corners and festivals.”
The shop sells filled-to-order cream doughnuts. Customers choose a type of doughnut along with one of a variety of fillings, such as chocolate and jams, and toppings. The most popular filling is the “Naughty Cream,” a vanilla bean pastry crème, according to Hoffman.
Hoffman has no concrete plans to open another Berkeley location in the near future, although she said she hopes to have pop-ups in the area. She added that she encourages her East Bay customers to visit the Oakland location and check Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for potential pop-ups.
Berkeley’s Doughnut Dolly currently has 19 employees. Hoffman hopes to spread all of them throughout the schedules of the two remaining locations rather than lay them off.
The rent dispute was with Donahue Schriber, a real estate investing firm that manages numerous shopping centers throughout the western United States. Doughnut Dolly predated the landlord at the location and the departure was “sudden and unexpected,” according to Hoffman. She did not provide further comment.
After selling out of doughnuts Sunday afternoon, Doughnut Dolly’s Facebook page posted, “All gone! But, not forever! Oakland and SF with be open tomorrow with lots of fluffy sugar treats. More soon… .” There were heartfelt comments on the post by customers.
Bevi Kothare, a previous customer of the Berkeley location, said she was surprised by the closure of the location.
“I went there once because I was going to Philz,” Kothare said. “It looked pretty cool. It was the soft opening and they were sold out of a lot. I was shocked to find they were closing down because it seemed like they just opened.”