Monuts, a doughnut shop, opens downtown

Mar. 07, 2013 @ 07:12 PM

Doughnuts sold by tricycle. Coffee sold by trike. Ice cream sold from a bus. Three different mobile food vendors in Durham have made, or are planning to make the transition into brick-and-mortar shops.

The latest is Monuts, a formerly solely mobile operation that sold doughnuts by tricycle in Durham. The doors opened Thursday to Monuts’ brick-and-mortar shop downtown at 110 E. Parrish St., where they sell doughnuts as well as bagels, English muffins and breakfast sandwiches.

“We were expecting to be busy for sure,” said Lindsay Moriarty, the co-owner of Monuts with her husband Rob Gillespie, speaking of the shop’s first day in business. She said Monuts had lines from when the shop opened at 7 a.m. until about 11:30 a.m., when she said crowds started to fizzle out.

The opening drew people who work downtown, people who have been following their business and other passersby, she said. The shop ran out of doughnuts around 12:30 p.m., Moriarty said in an email.

“We’ll definitely keep increasing production until we find our groove,” she said.

Monuts is not the only mobile operation that has opened up a permanent location recently.

Thursday’s opening followed the January opening of the coffee shop Cocoa Cinnamon on West Geer Street. The couple behind the coffee shop previously operated a mobile business called bikeCOFFEE.

“We are still in beta launch mode,” said Leon Grodski de Barrera, one-half of the husband-wife duo behind the business. “This means that we are still rolling out our menu, and finishing some of our start-up items, particularly adding the outdoor seating.”

Monuts’ opening precedes the launch of the downtown permanent location of the ice cream business The Parlour. The opening of their ice cream shop downtown on Market Street is expected in the next three to five weeks. The husband-and-wife team behind the business has sold their ice cream from a bus.

“We can do a lot more business in the shop (when) there’s kind of (one place where people) know where to find us anytime,” said Yoni Mazuz, co-owner of The Parlour. “We had a lot of people who were really enthusiastic, but came to the few places they know we were going to be regularly.”

Moriarty and Gillespie started Monuts as a mobile operation, selling doughnuts at the Durham-based The Cookery’s commercial kitchen, which is rented by the hour.

To grow the company, they had to make a larger investment, Moriarty said.

They now have their own space and kitchen storage. She said she believes that will help them to grow and be more creative.

Their doughnut selection included a Boston cream doughnut for $2, a coconut dream cake doughnut for $2, and a chocolate Early Grey doughnut for $2.

Attorney Scott Eren, a Chapel Hill-based criminal defense lawyer, said he can choose where he works on a certain day, and on Thursday, he chose Durham. He had a court appearance at the Durham County Courthouse, he said, and made a stop at Monuts.

Eren ordered a bagel sandwich and a dozen doughnuts. He said he’s tried their doughnuts before at a farmers’ market, and is also a regular at Rise, a biscuit and doughnut shop that opened in December in Durham at Renaissance Village near The Streets at Southpoint.

“I love Rise – the biscuits are the best I’ve ever had,” he said. “I just like to eat.”

Rosario Vila stopped by Monuts Thursday with her 3-year-old daughter Naomi Arrington. Vila said she just finished teaching a music and art class for toddlers at the Stay & Play Snack Café, which also recently opened downtown.

Vila said they had a bagel with cream cheese, as well as two doughnuts.

“It was good,” the Chapel Hill resident said. She said it’s a “special treat” to come downtown. Her criticism was about parking, since she said she had a parking ticket in her pocket.

Durham resident Russell Lacy had finished a bicycle ride, and came to Monuts for an English muffin with eggs and coffee. A graduate of N.C. Central University in 2004 who returned to Durham about a year ago, Lacy said the city’s downtown has changed.

“I think compared to where it was 10 years ago, it’s kind of unbelievable,” said Lacy, who owns Russell Lacy Music, which offers music lessons, downtown.

There are not “a whole lot” of residents living in downtown Durham, Moriarty said, but she expects that to change. Developers have proposed and begun construction of complexes in downtown Durham, as well as elsewhere in the city.

Moriarty said she expects to see continued growth downtown. Currently, there are separate pockets of developed space that are trying to connect, she said.

“I love downtown, and I think people want to be here – the more reason we give them, the more people will come,” she said.