I thoroughly enjoy a doughnut that’s made from scratch. Stan’s Donuts in Santa Clara , Calif. has been a doughnut destination for more than 50 years. My wife has been coming here for decades, and has seen the cook who works by the front window change from Stan (Yes, there really is a Stan!) to his son, and two cooks later to the current hardworking man whom children still watch with fascination. Stan’s is still owned by his family and is managed by his grandson.
Through the store’s front window, you can watch the cook mix and knead the dough, roll it out, and cut out and form every item that goes into the large deep-fryer behind him: cake, buttermilk and raised doughnuts. The same dough used for the raised doughnuts yields jelly-filled doughnuts, chocolate and maple bars, cinnamon rolls, and cinnamon twists.
Demand usually outstrips supply, so you need to call the morning before if you must have something specific or have a large order. Or come really early. We call ahead because we drive out from Robertsville in San Jose , about 12 miles away. What’s on our list each time one of us makes the time to drive to Stan’s early on a Saturday or Sunday morning?
Chocolate bars and maple bars – These 3 x 6-inch bars are fluffy and moist on the inside, with a thin golden crust on the outside, topped with a ganache-type chocolate or maple frosting. You can’t get them anywhere else.
Cinnamon rolls – Approximately six inches across, the buns have cinnamon nestled throughout the ring of dough, topped off with a sugar glaze. These rolls are reddish-brown in color, light and moist inside, a bit crusty on the outside.
Cake doughnuts with chopped peanuts, shaved almonds or colored sprinkles – A bit crusty on the outside, firm but moist on the inside, these 4-inch treats are topped with a ganache-type chocolate frosting and a generous amount of nuts or sprinkles.
Every loyal patron of Stan’s has his or her favorite, and we’ve all learned to deal with the queue out the door. My wife and son choose their maple bars over everything else, while I prefer the chocolate bars or the chocolate cake doughnuts. No need to twist our arms to have a cinnamon roll, either.
Some like their doughnuts with coffee. My wife has to have a tall glass or cold milk, our son pours himself a glass of orange juice, and I prefer a mug of black tea. Since I watch my blood sugar closely these days, I limit myself to one cake doughnut or, when I know this is brunch, one chocolate bar. Regardless, it’s an indulgence I hope I can continue to enjoy.
I question continuing to patronize Stan’s because now there is a dark side to this food destination. The attitude behind the counter seems to have changed. The staff are no longer smiling, friendly and accommodating, particularly a young-ish Hispanic man who was rude and abrupt. When he said there was no record of the order we called in the day before, he practically insinuated that I lied about calling it in. One of the ladies behind the counter assembled my order (I wonder what would have happened if the elements of my order were no longer available) and took my payment.
I then saw a tray of cake doughnuts with multicolored sprinkles over chocolate frosting that would have looked great in my blog post. As I pulled out my camera, I got off one shot of the crowd before the same rude man behind the counter barked out, “No pictures!” in a very annoyed tone. A bit full of himself, in my opinion. One of these days he will bark out once too often and this family business will be out of business. I really miss Tina and the old crew, all of whom retired over 10 years ago…They knew how to treat their customers.