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Sugar Shack Donuts - Rob Krupicka Franchises Richmond-Based Donut Shop in Northern Virginia, All DC-Area Locations Are Closed


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Sugar Shack Donuts is another soon-to-be addition to the area near the Braddock Road Metro. Sugar Shack made USA Today's list of Top 10 best doughnut shops earlier this year. Things are definitely picking up in the Northwest quadrant of Old Town, with more to come.

And they're hiring, according to the signs in the windows.  The latest news, and links to previous stories from Red Brick Town can be found here.

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Sugar Shack is in a soft opening now, and still training staff.  In spite of that, they are making some damn tasty donuts!  Maple bacon...yummmm.

Can anyone opine on these compared to the spot on Cap Hill (DC Donuts or Capitol Donuts...can't recall the name but generally good reviews)?  Love donuts.  Try not to eat many of them so favor really good ones for the occasional treat.

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Stopped by after a short run this morning. Nice people and a good setup inside. They take pride in NOT labeling the donut in the display. Helpful staff will explain There are three tiers of prices: first is almost $2 each, more deluxe ones go for about $2.75, and the "monster is about $3.50. They told me only one flavor costs $3.50. The donut options vary throughout the day and from day to day. I had a maple iced donut with bacon on the top. It was pretty good, but the bacon looked pretty pale. Now I have to say this is the first donut I've had in probably more than a year. I avoid them on the same principle as cigarettes--well, cigarettes don't taste good, so that isn't really right. I can say these are probably very good donuts -- but I can't compare with other haute shops in the area.

They *seem* to have a coffee program, but I think it's just smoke and mirrors. They list various espresso beverages, plus drip coffee and pour overs. Coffee from Zeke's, a Baltimore roaster. When I asked about the pour overs available, the staff seemed a bit confused and then said they could make whatever was on display at the end of the counter. When I looked it was all retail bags, and I think all various blends designed for mass sale (like ME Swing's "blends"). I had a cup of drip coffee because of time constraints, and low confidence in a pour over being done well. It was not inspiring. Adequate and a decent balance to the sugar overload of the generously sized donut. I will probably go back in a day or two to try their cake donut, which comes as either a blueberry or what I know as an "old fashioned."

Sorry this is a bit sketchy on details.

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Stopped by after a short run this morning. Nice people and a good setup inside. They take pride in NOT labeling the donut in the display. Helpful staff will explain There are three tiers of prices: first is almost $2 each, more deluxe ones go for about $2.75, and the "monster is about $3.50. They told me only one flavor costs $3.50. The donut options vary throughout the day and from day to day. I had a maple iced donut with bacon on the top. It was pretty good, but the bacon looked pretty pale. Now I have to say this is the first donut I've had in probably more than a year. I avoid them on the same principle as cigarettes--well, cigarettes don't taste good, so that isn't really right. I can say these are probably very good donuts -- but I can't compare with other haute shops in the area.

They *seem* to have a coffee program, but I think it's just smoke and mirrors. They list various espresso beverages, plus drip coffee and pour overs. Coffee from Zeke's, a Baltimore roaster. When I asked about the pour overs available, the staff seemed a bit confused and then said they could make whatever was on display at the end of the counter. When I looked it was all retail bags, and I think all various blends designed for mass sale (like ME Swing's "blends"). I had a cup of drip coffee because of time constraints, and low confidence in a pour over being done well. It was not inspiring. Adequate and a decent balance to the sugar overload of the generously sized donut. I will probably go back in a day or two to try their cake donut, which comes as either a blueberry or what I know as an "old fashioned."

Sorry this is a bit sketchy on details.

Great stuff. Laughed at the coffee "program" description.  All too familiar in many places around the country.  Gets back to Don's "first world problem" line in the Independent Coffee Shops topic but I travel enough to be able to say there are many coffee shops in America where staff look at you funny if you say the word "pourover." And, in about a quarter of those cases, they may react better to "chemex."

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We visited on Monday and had a nice experience.  Donuts were definitely tasty "“ we got sugar/cinnamon, blueberry cake and chocolate frosted "“ but not life-changing.  As for the coffee, it's good, in my opinion.  I'm not a coffee purist, but the "pour over" that I had was from Guatemala (or was it Ethiopia or Brazil?  Who cares?) and it tasted good to me.  Particularly when paired with donuts.  Staff were happy and helpful.   A fun place to take the kids, who gawked at the donuts and the wacky decorations, and left with chocolate smeared on their smiling faces. 

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I tried, and really liked, a strawberry iced donut with chocolate drizzles. They use real strawberries in the icing and you can definitely taste them (yeah, I know they're not in season...).

I think the 'monster' pricing is for things like cinnamon buns or apple fritters (which I haven't seen in my two visits).

DIY DelRay has a nice story about the "wacky decorations".

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someone in my office brought in a half dozen today, five glazed and one maple bacon (which has been cut apart so everyone could get taste).  As noted above, the bacon looks pale but it is tasty, the bacon in good balance to the maple frosting.  The glazed are a bit bigger than KK doughnuts and not quite so sweet, but still puffy and yeasty and very good.  All I can say is that I'm glad they aren't on my route to/from Old Town.

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Things are looking up for Sugar Shack!

Hot off the presses this past week, this headline caught my attention and made me laugh.

---

3/17/15 WaPo:

"Lawmaker will leave, focus on doughnuts

Virginia state Del. K. Robert Krupicka Jr. (D-Alexandria) is retiring after three years in office to focus on the doughnut business he opened this year.

"Between business, family, and public service, it is clear that I'm burning more candles at more ends than I can sustain," he said in a letter to constituents. "I don't like to do anything halfway and the demands on my time make it impossible for me to be the engaged, active public servant that I have always tried to be."

In January, Krupicka opened a branch of the Richmond-based doughnut company Sugar Shack Donuts in the Parker Gray neighborhood of Alexandria.

"Lines often stretch out the door for flavors like Irish creme, salted caramel and espresso with mini M&M's," The Washington Post wrote this month. Krupicka has plans to open a speakeasy-style bar alongside the shop."

---

Personally, I'm not a big donut eater and hadn't yet made it to Sugar Shack. But, now that former State Delegate Rep Krupicka is really focusing on making some dough, will maybe give it a try. Pun intended.

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I haven't been to the one in Alexandria, so if this needs to be moved elsewhere, so be it - this comment is about the newer shop in Richmond on Huguenot Road (but I'm pretty sure the donuts are similar at all locations, so may still be relevant).

Over Fourth of July weekend, we stopped by this RVA location twice and got 1/2 dozen both times to split and share with family. So we got to try a lot of options. All were good, with some standing out above the rest. This is my attempt at ranking them based on my opinion and some input from others:

-Salted Caramel - we got this on both trips because we liked it so much the first time. Glazed yeast donut with a thick and chewy salted caramel topping

-Cinnamon sugar - yeast donut with granulated cinnamon and sugar (not powdered). Simple, but really good

-Blueberry cake - I typically prefer yeast donuts over cake, but this version was excellent. Dense, but very moist with good blueberry flavor

-Maple bacon - we got this one twice as well, and even though I don't love maple, I can agree it is a good donut

-Cinnamon roll - large and in charge and very tasty

-Samoa - like the cookie, it had caramel glaze, chocolate drizzle, and toasted coconut - yum

-White icing glazed - still good, but only really ranked lower because it wasn't as interesting and different as some of the others

-Chocolate glazed - similar to the above comment, and I happened to like the white slightly better than the chocolate

-Butterfinger - I love Butterfingers, but this was a little too "desserty" for me. I think I prefer donuts separate from my candy.

It is a really interesting operation, as mentioned above. The lack of labels forces some interaction with staff, and on our two trips they were happy to list out the options for us and explain what was on display. Also interesting that they change throughout the day, so if you miss out, tough luck. I get the impression there are a few standards that are almost always there (maple bacon being one).

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I haven't been to the one in Alexandria, so if this needs to be moved elsewhere, so be it - this comment is about the newer shop in Richmond on Huguenot Road (but I'm pretty sure the donuts are similar at all locations, so may still be relevant).

As long as New Foodie posted, I should add that Alexandria tweeted that they'll be closing at 4 PM today for a staff get-together.

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That blueberry cake doughnut blew me away, I loved it.

I agree. Best cake doughnut I have ever had by a long shot.

I love the samoas, have found the salted caramel a touch too salty, like both the glazed and chocolate glazed quite a bit. The glazed however cannot hold a candle to Knakal's in Culpeper- Deanne and I both consider their glazed the best we have ever had. (and at half the price of SS)

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Sugar Shack Donuts has opened in South Arlington, at the southwest corner of S. Glebe Road and Columbia Pike. 

Note that right around the corner (in the same building), on the Columbia Pike side, 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza is right on the verge of opening as well - if it isn't already open, they're probably only days away (do not get your hopes up - this is a quick serve chain or franchise that has come in from out-of-town). I've also noticed a correlation between 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizza and Chipotle Grill - it seems like wherever there's the former, there's the latter nearby (such is the case in South Arlington).

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I like this place, but not a donut lover - maybe I just don't get them? But I'm glad they are having success. Such nice people working there. Good customer service.

Funny story - and makes me think about kids/palettes - I took my cousin's kids here (3 teenagers). I bought a dozen donuts for $25, for them and their parents. Me and the parents had one each, they had 3 each (I don't know how they aren't obese, haha). Finished them... We were on our way to Annapolis. 20 minutes into the drive, one of them says "I actually like Dunkin Donuts better" and the other two agree fully. "These were good... But not Dunkin." I wonder what it was that made DD's so obviously better to them...

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We tried out Nocturne Friday night - the basement bar at the DC Sugar Shack (Disclaimer we are semi-regulars at Captain Gregory's the secret bar at the Alexandria Sugar Shack).  We had Nocturne described to us as the experimental cocktail sister bar to Captain Gregory's, I would call it the hipster cousin.  I felt I was to old to be there.  The music was loud enough to discourage chatting with the bartender, the menu was lightly printed dark type on dark color blocks so I had to get my phone's flash light out each time I wanted to order.  The drinks were good but I only had one i would consider amazing (Rabbit Season which was duck fat, apple brandy, apertivo, and orange shrub)  Pooch did better and had two of his four be very good.  Tried to engage the bartenders a few times:  I asked about some of the chemistry / kitchen stuff they had behind the bar - got quick answers and that was it, asked a few times for details on drinks but not much response.  Most of the drinks were pre-setup so they only had to do one or two steps to server - which let them do quick turnover but took away some of the interesting part of sitting at the bar for us and since this is set up so 13 of the 17 seats are along the bar I would think they would want to encourage interaction.  The drinks that did have steps were made below the bar level so you were not able to see much of what they were doing.  Overall I think I had my exceptions to high.  If what you want is your first step into interesting cocktails with flavor combinations you aren't ever going to get at an 'and' bar then this is a fairly easy price point first foray into this, if what you want is interactive conversation of cocktails and information then we suggest going to Captain Gregory's.  

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Tried some donuts this weekend in Alexandria, not sure what the hype is about.  Granted, we got them around 3:00pm, so they were probably 5 to 9 hours old, but my chocolate glazed donut did not taste like much of anything.  Plus, these donuts are huge.  I have to agree wtih Simul Parikh's family, I prefer Dunkin better (as well as Krispy Kreme, District Doughnuts, Duck Donuts, and the late-but-great Fractured Prune).

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6 hours ago, DaRiv18 said:

Tried some donuts this weekend in Alexandria, not sure what the hype is about.  Granted, we got them around 3:00pm, so they were probably 5 to 9 hours old, but my chocolate glazed donut did not taste like much of anything.  Plus, these donuts are huge.  I have to agree wtih Simul Parikh's family, I prefer Dunkin better (as well as Krispy Kreme, District Doughnuts, Duck Donuts, and the late-but-great Fractured Prune).

I had the same exact feeling when I tried their donuts a while back...meh.  Both the Alexandria and DC location.  Maybe if you go first thing the morning they are fresher, and might taste better?  

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16 hours ago, DaRiv18 said:

Tried some donuts this weekend in Alexandria, not sure what the hype is about.  Granted, we got them around 3:00pm, so they were probably 5 to 9 hours old, but my chocolate glazed donut did not taste like much of anything.  Plus, these donuts are huge.  I have to agree wtih Simul Parikh's family, I prefer Dunkin better (as well as Krispy Kreme, District Doughnuts, Duck Donuts, and the late-but-great Fractured Prune).

I agree. It's the toppings (like bacon) that make this place popular. The donuts are meh.

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Ok, I will admit, I am not a big doughnut person.  I will eat a VERY fresh Krispy Kreme from time to time.  I do love a freshly made, glazed or chocolate covered yeast, homemade amish doughnut too.  I like the whole wheat blueberry cake doughnut at Dunkin.  That's about it, except, I really like the seasonal fruit cake doughnuts at Sugar Shack.  But I admit not a doughnut connoisseur by any means.

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46 minutes ago, ktmoomau said:

Ok, I will admit, I am not a big doughnut person.  I will eat a VERY fresh Krispy Kreme from time to time.  I do love a freshly made, glazed or chocolate covered yeast, homemade amish doughnut too.  I like the whole wheat blueberry cake doughnut at Dunkin.  That's about it, except, I really like the seasonal fruit cake doughnuts at Sugar Shack.  But I admit not a doughnut connoisseur by any means.

The Amish doughnuts at Burkholders in Sharpsburg are outstanding (I think the family is Mennonite).  Best I've ever had.  They also have excellent breads, pies, and pepperoni rolls.  Out-of-the-way, though, unless you're going to Shepherdstown, Harper's Ferry, Antietam or some of the orchard markets on 64 or 66.

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I do not think of myself as a donut connoisseur, either.  I do have some bias here, I cannot burn off the calories like I used to.  So, am more apt to condemn an oversized, tasteless donut than, say, a poorly extracted glass of kale juice.  So, if my review of Sugar Shack seemed a bit harsh, it's because not only did I dislike the donut, I also disliked myself for several hours after eating it. 

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4 hours ago, DaRiv18 said:

I do not think of myself as a donut connoisseur, either.  I do have some bias here, I cannot burn off the calories like I used to.  So, am more apt to condemn an oversized, tasteless donut than, say, a poorly extracted glass of kale juice.  So, if my review of Sugar Shack seemed a bit harsh, it's because not only did I dislike the donut, I also disliked myself for several hours after eating it. 

I nominate this for best post of the month.

Sometimes I am the jackass at the office that cuts the doughnut in half.

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There's a sign up in the South Arlington branch that's it's soon to be Elizabeth's Counter (Facebook page) - it may be reasonable to guess that all DMV locations of Sugar Shack might be renamed and re-concepted.

This is really going from one extreme ("Sugar Shack") to the other ("Elizabeth's Counter," which sounds perilously close to Elizabeth's Gone Raw).

I just had a Wild Blueberry Cake Donut (superb) and a Chocolate-Glazed Yeast Donut (very good). I was going to get the tiny Vanilla Gluten-Free Donut instead of the Chocolate, but the devil got the best of me.

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Yeah, I really just don't understand why the complete re-brand, and why not keep a bakery as sugar shack inside each restaurant and say like Elizabeth's featuring the Sugar Shack bakery.  I feel like the new name is confusing, and not strong, while the Sugar Shack brand name has a real following.  I get wanting to offer more foods during the day, I just feel like this was a bit odd in the what/why/how.

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On 2/27/2020 at 3:10 PM, ktmoomau said:

Yeah, I really just don't understand why the complete re-brand, and why not keep a bakery as sugar shack inside each restaurant and say like Elizabeth's featuring the Sugar Shack bakery.  I feel like the new name is confusing, and not strong, while the Sugar Shack brand name has a real following.  I get wanting to offer more foods during the day, I just feel like this was a bit odd in the what/why/how.

Up Columbia Pike a few blocks, Idido's Coffee House has begun serving wine at happy hour. As much as I love this coffee house, certain things in this world are doomed (I'm talking about the happy hour concept; not the coffeehouse itself).

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30 minutes ago, jandres374 said:

Apparently, the two are not related per this e-mail.

Your post appears to be correct - this is the complete list of Locations on Sugar Shack's website:

Screenshot 2020-03-17 at 11.26.52.png

I guess on the day I went recently, the transition from Sugar Shack to Elizabeth's Counter was on the verge of completion. I'm glad I had Sugar Shack's donuts one last time - they were really very good.

It's unclear whether Rob Krupicka is involved with Elizabeth's Counter, or whether he took his franchises, divested, and worked out a deal with Elizabeth. 🤔

Feb 12, 2020 - "Sugar Shack Donuts To Become Elizabeth's Counter" on alexandrialivingmagazine.com

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