Grindstone Donuts & Coffee

This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper

 

Grindstone Coffee & Donuts first opened its doors at 7 Main Street in Sag Harbor on August 1, 2016, and has proven to be a delicious indulgence East Enders can’t get enough of. Owner Kyle Shanahan grew up in Ohio, dreaming of opening a café. He dropped out of college, twice, to pursue this dream. It was upon visiting his parents’ summer home in Wainscott that he decided to move to East Hampton in 2012.

“As soon as I got here I knew this is where I needed to be. It’s so quiet and beautiful in the off-season, and so lively in the summer. I love the balance,” Shanahan said.
The rent of East Hampton storefronts proved cost prohibitive for Shanahan. He bought an RV to scope the country for places to settle and sold as many possessions as he could for the start-up money. With a fortunate turn of events, the space at 7 Main Street in Sag Harbor became available, a location seen as a home run by Shanahan.

Since the area was already saturated with coffee shops, he took a unique approach, donuts — a concept that was already familiar to him.

Long-time friend Brett Eskra, frequently seen behind Grindstone’s front counter, would venture with Shanahan in the Cleveland suburbs, where donut shops were plentiful.

“Our favorite was a place called Donut Pantry. It has the little counter for old people to sit and read the newspaper, and all the walls are stained yellow from decades of cigarette smoke. It’s awesome,” Shanahan reminisced. “I tried getting a job there when I was 15, but I guess I wasn’t qualified.”

Creating flavors at his donut shop is a team effort and very causal. Shanahan flips through a “flavor bible” and waits for inspiration. Try Shanahan’s favorite, a Boston Cream with homemade pastry cream, dark chocolate glaze, and cocoa nib, or the fan favorite, Cinnamon Sugar, to perfectly complement your cup of coffee.

The brioche dough, made in small batches of 125 donuts each, is made of 83 percent butterfat, eggs, milk, salt, sugar, and fresh yeast. It then goes through a 24-hour fermentation process, is hand cut, and fried every few hours to maintain freshness. All toppings are made in-house.

The shop has sold 150 donuts a day during off season and a record 2200 one hectic summer day. Other flavor staples are the Classic Glaze, Chocolate Sprinkles, Lemon Poppy, and S’mores. Stop in during the afternoon hours and potentially snag a complimentary, day-old donut (which still tastes better than any generic brand donut). The roster of edible heaven rotates often, popping up new themes around the holidays. For example, for St. Patrick’s Day, a Chocolate Guinness Stout glaze, with Bailey’s Irish cream graces the menu.

Proud of his upbringing, Shanahan explained the name Grindstone comes from a little piece of family history. Shanahan’s grandfather worked in Berea, Ohio, a town that once held the largest grindstone manufacturing quarry.

Shanahan recalled, “When I was little, my grandmother and I would hike through the river where the workers tossed the remnants of broken grindstones and carving stones. I would hunt for them as if they were ancient treasure. It’s one of my favorite memories.”

Grindstone is open year-round. “I always took it so personally that places come here in June to leach money out of the tourists, then give a middle finger to the locals as soon as Labor Day is over,” Shanahan explained. “Even during the crazy apocalyptic blizzards that shut down the rest of town, we open at 6 AM so people can come in.”

Entering Grindstone’s doors makes as indelible an impression as exiting them. The vibe of the shop is a direct expression of Shanahan himself, a mix of old school donut shop and an extension of his “vintage minimalist” apartment. Grindstone features a diner-esque style board and white counters, and a 1940s-era TV fitted with a new screen plays classics such as “Twilight Zone” or Betty Boop cartoons. The walls display local artwork for sale, something to keep the decor fresh and community driven.

Designs, like coffee beans, donuts, and skulls, are featured on Grindstone’s signature cup sleeves. It’s a twist on a classic donut shop, where edgy details meet Sag Harbor charm.
What goes better with donuts than coffee? Books! Enjoy reading from the shop’s mini library as you sit, or bring a book of your own to exchange with one on the shelf. Grindstone merch is also available.

With three collaborations recently announced, Grindstone Coffee & Donuts is staying ahead of the game before the warmer weather sets in. It is offering coffee from Stumptown Roasters. Ace Coffee Co. cold brew, brewed in Patchogue, is now on tap. The shop also carries Kombucha from Montauk company Monbrewcha, for those seeking a healthier beverage alternative.

Grindstone Coffee & Donuts is located at 7 Main Street in Sag Harbor. Call 631-808-3370. Stay updated, and hungry, by following its Instagram @grindstonecoffee.

 

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Where to Get Your Caffeine Fix in Sag Harbor

(This article first appeared in the August 16, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)

 

After eight months of rebuilding from a fire that devastated Sag Harbor in December 2016, SagTown reopened its doors on August 5 with a new wave of business.

“I finished the construction that Friday night at midnight and we opened Saturday morning 6 AM,” owner Shane Dyckman detailed.

“Good things always come out of bad. It’s a great feeling being so welcomed back.”

Now with two entrances, one directly on Main Street, SagTown is welcoming new customers who may have missed the former back-alley access to this local coffee shop. The new construction seamlessly flows and calls attention to Dyckman’s passion for the ocean with nautical ropes at every turn, creating a beachy vibe.

Dyckman introduces a Draft Latte on tap by La Colombe Coffee Roasters. A condensed espresso fused with frothy milk, this delicious caffeine fix settles like a Guinness. It’s a java lover’s dream and Dyckman’s personal favorite morning jolt. Want more than a Draft Latte? Order the Black and Tan, which is cold brew half way topped with a Draft Latte. Suddenly “on tap” has a whole new meaning.

More than coffee beans, SagTown offers a new food component, run by Ian Lowell, including salads, gourmet eight-inch pizzas, acai bowls, and avocado toast (a menu expected to change with the seasons).

“Whether there’s a blizzard, whether Santa came or not, we’re open Christmas morning and 365 days a year at 6 AM. This place is for the community, it’s more of that than anything else. After the fire and everything I feel like they want to be part of the rebuilding,” Dyckman explained.

His dedication to the community, including roles as a volunteer firefighter and owner of Flying Point Surf School, now pans to company merchandise. Hats, drawstring bags, t-shirts, and more: customers can take SagTown with them wherever they go.

A few doors down sees a vibe of a different kind. A literati’s dream combination, Harbor Books now offers a Bohemian tea room.

“While I attended UVM in Burlington, Vermont, I spent many hours at the wonderful tea room off of Church Street called Dobra Tea and I thought it would be a good place to start,” owner of Harbor Books, Taylor Berry, stated.

After sitting down with the partners of Dobra, Berry spent six months traveling back and forth to Burlington for immersive and intensive tea training. Construction began the last week of April with an official re-opening of the store, and tea counter, the first week of May.

Nestled in one of Harbor Books’s cozy couches with a novel in one hand and your choice of tea or tisane in another (32 different kinds to be exact), as one of the store’s felines lay alongside you. Stop in for a Forest Dragon, which is iced matcha, rice milk, and jasmine tea. Berry is excited for customers to sip and savor with seasonal specials throughout the year — hot or chilled, bubble or regular.

SagTown Coffee is located at 78 Main Street, call 631-725-8696.

Harbor Books and Dobra Tea is located at 20 Main Street, call 631-808-3401.

Need to fuel your addiction more? Other localized places to grab your caffeine fix in Sag Harbor:

Sylvester & Co located at 103 Main Street, call 631-725-5012. Shop home décor whilst enjoying a snack and brew.

Grindstone Coffee and Donuts located at 7 Main Street, call 631-808-3370. Come for the coffee, leave with a box of donuts.

Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee located at 51 Division Street, call 631-808-3420. Understated but far from overrated.

Many beverages were enjoyed while creating this article.