Today is a very special day..it’s Tova the Doodette’s FIRST birthday AND it’s National Donut Day!
Tova the Doodette tried her first donut when she was just two months old (see photos below) and she is still a huge fan of the deliciously sprinkled treats.
Tova has matured so much over the past year that she now has upgraded to a mug of coffee with her colorful, sprinkled donuts.
Covid-19 has impacted all of us in more ways we would probably like to admit and recall.
Keeping the positivity and finding the silver (or in my case, GOLD) lining has been the ultimate key in getting through the past fifteen months.
On June 4th, 2020, Tova the Doodette was born and Kayla and I officially became Dog Moms!
Getting a GOLDENdoodle during Covid really did make things better.
Shoutout to the best breeder and nurturer ever, Alana Christensen, for meeting me at the Fargo airport to drop off our four-legged, apricot baby, Tova.
If anyone is looking to get a Goldendoodle, hit up Alana (Christensen Doodles).
The trip to North Dakota is SO worth it for the puppy of your dreams. Tova is the best doodette Kayla and I could ever ask for!
Now, let’s get back to donuts…
I had the serendipitous pleasure of meeting Pam Gaines a few months ago.
It was thanks to our puppies, Tova the Doodette and Pam’s puppy, Del, that we met.
Pam also got a puppy during the pandemic!
Tova and Del became FURiends at first sight and could not stop chasing each other around the dog park!
When speaking with Pam, I soon learned that she, like myself, is a Los Angeles native.
When she learned that I am a UCLA Alum, she instantly asked me if I knew of Stan’s Donuts…which obviously, I have! I mean, seriously. Who hasn’t?!
For those of you who are a) not a donut lover, b) not a UCLA Bruin fan and/or c) not familiar with Westwood Village, Stan’s Donuts was a Los Angeles staple and iconic shop for fifty five years.
The man behind the beautiful display of doughnuts? Stan Berman, Pam’s father.
Peep her awesome mask as she represents her dad’s famous store.
Stan was born in 1929 and came from a long line of Jewish bread bakers. According to BBC News, “As a child, he would wake up before dawn to fry doughnuts at his father's little Philadelphia bakery, finishing them off with a generous coating of granulated sugar. When people came in to buy a loaf of bread in the morning, they'd pick up one of Stan's doughnuts too.”
Stan took over his shop in the heart of Westwood Village over fifty five years ago. The building was quite unassuming, but the benefit was that it was located on two busy streets (Weyburn and Broxton), less than two blocks from UCLA, and across the street from the Fox Bruin and Fox Village Theaters.
Stan described it as "the smallest little shop you've ever seen”.
When Stan first took over, the store was called “The Corner Shoppe”, and although it indeed had equipment for baking, the only items sold were other people’s food.
That didn’t last long.
“One Sunday morning when the shop was closed, Stan popped in to clean up and, noticing the heavy footfall in the area, saw an opportunity. He called a friend in the bakery business who brought him flour, yeast and everything else he needed.
He made a piece of dough and fried a batch of doughnuts, then sold them through the shop's window.” - BBC News
Alas, Stan’s famous donuts were unveiled.
This Sunday ritual became known throughout Westwood Village. So much so, that come Monday mornings, people would come into The Corner Shoppe looking for doughnuts and nothing else!
As BBC reported, “They'd say 'Stan why aren't you making doughnuts?'" Stan, now 91, recalls. "And I'd say 'Well you know, we're not really doing that'. Then, before you know it, we were doing that."
In no time, The Corner Shoppe became The Corner Donut Shoppe, and then eventually, Stan's Donuts.
“Doughnuts were considered at the low-end of the bakery business, but Stan applied the techniques for making fine pastries learned in his youth to create a new product.
‘They were so different from most doughnuts, even though I used the same flour, and shortenings and toppings,’ he says.”
"My idea was I'm going to make something you really like. Tell me what you like and I'm going to try and make something for you as a doughnut so you will come in for yours - I did that for hundreds of people.”
“He packed his array of flavors - cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, peanut butter - into a display case that ‘blasted’ people when they walked into the tiny room.
Before long, Stan was selling thousands of doughnuts every day.” - BBC News
As the Los Angeles Times reported, “Stan’s Donuts was known for its unique doughnut creations.
The Peanut Butter Pocket — a peanut butter-filled doughnut topped with chocolate glaze and chocolate chips, became the shop’s most popular doughnut.”
After fifty five years of running this LA staple, Stan was forced to close up shop on April 10th, 2020.
The above photo is a message from Stan Berman he posted on a window at Stan’s Donuts: “Thank you for being by my side for all these years.” (Alene Tchekmedyian / Los Angeles Times)
“It is with a sad heart that I inform you that I have made the decision to close my doors and today will be the last day I will be making donuts,” Berman wrote. “Unfortunately COVID-19 made the decision happen sooner, but I hope that you will remember how our donuts made you smile for many years to come.”
When interviewing Pam for this feature, she relayed that the closing of her Dad’s famous donut shop was the most devastating part of the pandemic for her family.
In his goodbye note, Berman wrote customers’ “support and friendship has meant more than you know. Thank you for being by my side for all these years.”
You may be wondering why Stan’s Donuts were so good...
Well, Stan Berman says there are three reasons:
“The first was the sea air that blew into his shop from the Pacific Ocean some five miles away - he never used air conditioning, even at the height of the LA summer, to avoid spoiling the perfect atmospheric conditions.”
“The second reason was the skill that went into making the doughnuts.”
“And the third, simply, was love.”
Pam went on to say that Covid-19 essentially, ”killed the business”. "We had to make the choice of whether to stay open by going into my father's savings and it wasn't worth it," she explains. If it weren’t for this global pandemic "we would have continued. The store would have stayed open until my father passed away."
"It was so much aggravation trying to run the store without my father there - that's what made it a bit easier to close the doors. But it's been very sad."
Thank you, Pam, for sharing your story with me, and thank you, Stan, for the delicious donuts you served us over the years!
Oh, and let’s not forget to wish Tova the Doodette, a HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY!
If only she could try a dog-friendly donut from Stan…