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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28 Days of Awesome: Find Your Local Adventure

Inspired by my Golden Birthday (turning 28th on March 28th), 28 Days of Awesome was created as a way to live local life to the fullest.


Initially, when a friend brought up that 2017 was my lucky turning of age, I envisioned a weekend away. Boston, upstate New York, maybe the Carolina’s. However, without a current substantial, steady pay check the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a small vacation conceptually created more stress than anticipation. On the positive side, no routine commitment allows me the flexibility to seek the unknown any time of day, spreading my dollar to daily, local activities. Thus, creating a ‘golden’ opportunity for an extended adventure (and blog series).

Eventually, as expected, planning something ‘awesome’ every day for four weeks became exhausting. By day 17 I started referring to it as the 28 Day Challenge but, in conclusion of it all, 28 Days of Eating would have been a more accurate description.

Amid my struggle to pull through to the end, a friend’s text message read:

“Isn’t that life? We start off doing something because we have a passion for it and it becomes a challenge to continue as each day passes. But that’s one thing you’ve proven me wrong on several occasions. You decide to do something because you’re passionate about it and you see it through no matter what obstacles get in your way.” – Anonymous Motivator

Without realizing it, my idea was spreading light to those around me. As though someone dropped a match in gasoline, the fire within me was reignited and I successfully accomplished something new every day for 28 days.

  • Finding Things That Are Free: In thinking up things to do I also needed to adhere to some sort of budget. Manhattan has dozens of talk shows that are free to attend. Be a part of a studio audience at no additional expense, just the transportation it takes to get there. On March 1st I sat front row at The Wendy Williams Show as a way to kick off my month long celebration. In a wonderful turn of events, they asked me to be on call for future projects. Still on a high from the previous day, I attended a press and industry event for the new Broadway musical Anastasia, courtesy of The Garden City Hotel, where I met several of the producers and cast member Derek Klena.
28 Days 8
Left: Derek Klena from Anastasia the Musical / Right: Wendy William
  • On a Budget, Coffee Coffee Coffee: There’s something to be said about a well crafted cup of coffee situated in an uniquely decorated shop. Independently owned coffee houses draw in personalities similar to the engaging atmosphere they provide. In addition, you know that money goes directly back into the local community. When it comes to ‘cawfee,’ I say- Go small business or go home. One day, I stumbled into Toby’s Estate Espresso Bar located in the Flatiron, perfectly situated in connection to a sub-location of Strand Bookstore. Isn’t that the ideal combination, coffee and books? Another, I sought out Bellmore Bean Cafe, a place I’d passed countless times but for some reason or another never took the time to go inside. As it were, it was comedy night but turned out the joke was on us (at that point I realized why they had alcohol on the shelves next to the beans brewing). I also made a point to attend the Coffee & Tea Festival in Brooklyn. It was something I never experienced but found myself tweaking out from too much caffeine in the end (basically Kramer from Seinfeld).

28 Days 5

  • Take Time to Disconnect: Tending to my physical health and disconnecting became important on my list. After hearing the benefits of floatation therapy, I did a 60-minute float at iChill. I’d been to the Dead Sea years ago and had an idea what floating felt like. What I didn’t foresee was the hurdle of mental disconnection. At Hand & Stone I requested my first male masseuse.
28 Days 9
Left: iChill Salt Float / Right: Hand & Stone Massage
28 Days 6
Left: Zumbathon for Make-A-Wish / Middle: New York Blood Center / Right: Denim & Diamonds
  • Carpe Diem: When I was running out of ideas I stopped thinking and let the day progress naturally. I stumbled across a new Zumba instructor I hadn’t taken before, went to see a movie for the first time alone, received my debut article for Luxury Living Magazine and saw my friends acoustic session at Craft Kitchen (a place I see every time I ride the LIRR but hadn’t yet tried).
28 Days 3
Up Right: New Zumba Instructor / Up Left: Beauty & The Beast /     Down Right: Luxury Living Magazine article / Down Left: Craft Kitchen
  • Give & Take: Not everything panned out as planned, like a two hour wait for indoor go-karting (which I’d never done on Long Island). While we took a great picture the real experiences were exploring local bars, rather forgetful in documenting the ‘awesomeness.’ Luckily, some things are easy to rely on, like a complimentary pilates class for new students. Though I am a self-proclaimed fitness foodie, this was my first pilates experience.
28 Days
Top: Pilates / Bottom: Indoor Go Karting
  • When in Doubt, Eat…: Never one to turn down food, the easiest thing to do was discover new places to eat or drink. Grindstone in Sag Harbor had long been on my must-see list since its opening in summer 2016 as was The VNYL in NYC (complimentary Irish Coffee on St. Patricks day). Piecraft was a unique option for a late night dinner with a craft-your-own-pizza attitude and Kinha proved to be a good sushi option for a friendly catch up. Yet, when ‘snowstorm Stella’ came to town I had to prepare for things to do at home, and a new bottle of Natura Malbec wine tipsyed the scale in my favor.
28 Days 7
Up Left: Grindstone / Up Right: Kinha Sushi / Middle: Natura Malbec / Down Left: PieCraft / Down Right: The VNYL
  • …And Eat Some More: As mentioned, not everything went as expected. As a backup, I revisited Bellmore Bean Cafe and tried their dessert with some Irish coffee (it was acoustic night, which was a nice change). But nothing, aside from my actual birthday, beat my final day of being 27 on the 27th. I waited three years to experience Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar as part of birthday celebrations and that dream finally came true. My admiration for the brand and love for polo made it an experience I hoped for and one that finally became a reality. Dream, dress, and dine like a Lauren!
Left: Bellmore Bean / Right: Ralph Lauren Polo Bar
  • Every Day is a Day to Celebrate: Having never been to a brewery before, and admiring local craft brews, I did a tasting flight at Port Jeff Brewery (their Cold North Wind Barleywine was especially delicious). Finally, after a prior failed attempt, I made it to Crown Steakhouse where I sampled several of their nearly 200 different types of whiskey with the owner, Gerry (‘un-lushing’ my inner Irish).
28 Days 4
Top: Crown Steakhouse / Bottom: Port Jefferson Brewery
  • Spontaneity Works: Alright, so having brunch at Jam or attending a Paint Nite was planned in advance. But spontaneously trying on Victoria’s Secret Angel wings directly off the mannequin was a spur of the moment decision. On my 28th birthday the store lent me them so I ‘could fly.’ Sadly, they were too heavy, so I requested a photo op instead.
28 Days 2
Left: Victoria’s Secret Angel wings / Middle: Paint Nite / Right: Jam on Park

3 Things I Learned:

You Don’t Need to Travel Far to Get Away

Local adventures have the ability to shape our day-to-day lives. Over the course of 28 days my appreciation grew for my hometown and the surrounding areas. By committing to step outside my usual routine each day, even if for a moment, I discovered an unknown and felt a new sense of happiness.

Expect Less, Receive More

Money and people, two things where the more I rely on it the more disappointed I become. The value of an adventure isn’t measured by its price tag but by its impact. Free to low cost activities had a greater affect on me because I had low expectations, and if it wasn’t ‘awesome’ than I didn’t break the bank testing it out. The same went with friends. Over the course of 28 days I tried to involve as many people in my life as possible, to share in the experiences. Unfortunately, quite a few times I was let down and made to do things on my own. From disinterest in what I was doing, life getting in the way and even just flat out ditching me. It was when I committed to an idea, be damned who came with me, that others eagerly joined in. The less I asked the more I received.

Doing Things Alone is Awesome

I think I have an awesome array of interests, an awesome outlook on life, and an awesome ability to meet people anywhere I go. So why should I worry about doing things alone? Since I love who I am and what I am, doing things solo eventually became easy. As I mentioned in my blog about solo travel, doing things alone allowed me to be selfish and ignore other peoples noise.

Stay Golden!