Philly’s indie and punk music scene is crossing over into the doughnut business.
A former Milk Bar pastry chef and the ReAnimator Coffee team are ready to start frying alongside musician/manager Joe Marro and band manager Zack Zarrillo. Look for their company Hello Donuts popping up at outdoor markets, concerts, and ReAnimator’s headquarters this summer, while the guys hunt for a Fishtown location to set up their first brick-and-mortar doughnut shop.
“It started with me and Ben Walsh —he’s in the band Tigers Jaw — sitting at our favorite coffee shop, ReAnimator, talking about, ‘Hey, did you every go to Donut Friend in LA? Have you been to Sugar Shack in Richmond? Strange Donuts in St. Louis?’ And we realized, ‘Wow, we go to a lot of doughnut shops while we’re on the road,” says Marro, an artist manager and member of The Early November. “There are these places that become destination spots that touring bands know about. They become part of the community. We wanted to create something like that here in Philly.”
Walsh is a partner in Hello Donuts. Also on the team: Andrew Valentine of Rojo’s Roastery in Princeton, contractor Scott Luciano, who was in a band with Valentine, and Mark Corpus and Mark Capriotti of ReAnimator Coffee, who are also partners in Res Ipsa. Pastry chef Tiago Schmidt comes to Philly by way of Paris originally and more recently Momofuku off-shoot Milk Bar in Brooklyn.
The “ragtag crew,” as Marro calls them, are all friends from the music world, with the exception of Schmidt — “We got Craigslist ad lucky,” Zarrillo says of finding the pastry chef.
Schmidt was given free rein over the recipes, with one stipulation: He had to come up with some vegan options. “I love the other doughnut shops in the city, but they’re all vegan or not vegan,” Marro says. “Some of our partners are vegan, so we wanted both.”
The Hello Donuts flavors are a mix of more creative combinations and classic varieties. After a friends-and-family tasting earlier this week, they whittled the list down to six — a manageable number for market stands and pop-up shops. The winners are a Boston cream-style doughnut with a chocolate topping, a classic sour cream, and a strawberry cheesecake on the regular list, and lemon poppy, strawberry with apple filling, and coconut coriander for the vegan offerings.
The first stop sticks with the music theme, with Hello Donuts setting up alongside ReAnimator at the June 3 Punk Rock Flea Market, right near the Mann Center at 5070 Parkside Avenue. On June 11, find them in Bryn Mawr at the roving Clover Market. If you’re going to the June 14 Sorority Noise show at Union Transfer, they’ll be there, too.
Later this summer, Hello Donuts will set up a weekly pop-up shop at ReAnimator’s roasting facility, at 310 W. Master Street.
At the same time, Marro and Zarrillo are searching Fishtown for a permanent Hello Donuts location. “We’d love to have a physical shop yesterday,” Zarrillo says. “But for now, we’re just gearing up. We’re creating the brand, and the market.”