story & photos by Bakery Boy
My first question to the manager of D Square Donuts in Auburn, Alabama, was simple. Why square? Dennis McKelvy’s quick answer (clearly he has fielded this one many times before) proved equally simple: “Why not?”
“I’d heard about square donut places in Texas and New York, but I’d never been to one,” Dennis says. “I did a little research and saw that there wasn’t one anywhere close to here, so I thought I’d give it a try. The response has been phenomenal.”
Bigger than most, these donuts measure 4 x 4 inches and the corners offer “four more bites” (D Square’s slogan) compared to their round cousins. “They’re fluffier than regular donuts too,” Dennis says, “like large versions of the beignets you see in New Orleans.”
Fillings in generous proportions add flavor and moisture to the yeast-raised donuts, among them apple, strawberry, blueberry, lemon, Bavarian crème, chocolate, peanut butter, white crème (like wedding cake frosting), and key lime pie (with crumbled graham crackers coating the outside). Honey buns, fritters, donut holes, and yes even a few traditional round cake-style donuts line neighbor trays.
TIGER STRIPES Auburn being home to Auburn University, one of the most popular items at D Square Donuts is a donut designed to honor the school’s “Tigers” nickname. Dennis calls them Tiger Stripes: 4-inch-square donuts filled with white crème and topped with chocolate frosting and white stripes. “On football Saturdays in the fall I can’t make enough of those,” he says. “I’ll do five times as many as usual and still run out. I hire extra staff, mostly Auburn students, to work the counter and the drive-through window.”
JUST FOUR HOURS A DAY For any shop to open just four hours a day seems short, but a strict adherence to freshness works well for D Square. “I only open from 6 to 10 a.m. on weekdays [closed Mondays] and 7 to 11 a.m. on weekends, so you never get a donut here that’s more than a few hours old, and probably less than that. I start getting everything going at 1 a.m. and I’m here cleaning up after the door closes, but at least I know I’ve given people the best and the freshest donuts possible. That’s the way donuts are meant to be eaten, fresh and hot.”
GET A ROUND You can still get round versions if you want. “Only the yeast donuts are square because they’re cut out of a rising dough,” Dennis says. “Cake donuts start out as a batter and are round because they’re squirted into the fryer already that shape.” Regular, chocolate, plain, iced, rolled in cinnamon-sugar, striped with icing, dusted with powered sugar, dotted with colorful sprinkles, and other variations satisfy donut purists who are too hip to go square.
BORN INTO FOOD BIZ A lifelong food-services worker whose family ran seafood-and-steak restaurants in the Florida Panhandle, Dennis once operated a more typical donut shop. “My accountant and a friend dragged me into one in Crestview, Florida, and convinced me to buy it,” he says. “I ran it for several years. Then I moved to Auburn and saw that there was no donut shop here at the time [a national chain has arrived since, creating competition]. I opened D Square Donuts in 2009 on National Donut Day, the first Friday in June, and I’ve been busy frying donuts ever since.”
LOCATION 1625 East University Drive, Auburn, AL 36830 (behind McAlister’s Restaurant in the Winn-Dixie shopping center)
HOURS Tue-Fri 6-10 a.m., Sat-Sun 7-11 a.m. (or until the donuts run out)
INFO On Facebook @ D Square Donuts or call 334-887-1112