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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Sabrosa Mexican Grill

This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper

Sabrosa Mexican Grill isn’t your average, on-the-go eatery. It’s a family run facility built on the three pillars of nutrition, wellness, and philanthropy.

Jay Andreassi opened up his first Sabrosa Mexican Grill in Water Mill, right off of Route 27, four years ago, one year after beginning his wellness journey with the Wellness Foundation. The opening was a result of a year’s worth of research and culture development around his three pillars, all coinciding with qualities that mattered most to him. This isn’t fast food, it’s delicious health food on a time constraint, and now available in four locations.

Inspired by the likes of Chipotle, Andreassi took a liking to the concept of it all. Sleek design, quick delivery, choose your own toppings and, of course, Mexican food. However, upon a closer examination at the ingredients, he felt more could be done. That’s when Sabrosa was born. It’s Mexican food without the guilt. Vegetables, high protein beans.

“What we did at Sabrosa most Mexican restaurants did not have five years ago,” Andreassi explained about his brown rice, quinoa, tofu, and vegan options such as soups and chili, in addition to wheat tortillas and lettuce tacos.

“We are in the near future adding ‘beyond beef,’ which is a pea base product that with its recipe including quinoa, can be used with a burrito, bowl, taco, salad, or quesadilla. Our staff is amazing preparing and serving the healthiest fresh food ever in a clean environment,” he said. There’s also a choice of fresh gelato flavors to cleanse the palate and add in for a little indulgence.

Helping the start of it all was Cynthia Sass, former nutritionist of the store, but presently employed by the New York Yankees. Customers seeking nutrition tips of their own, beyond company doors, can explore the Sabrosa website for monthly tips on how to eat healthier. From how to shrink the waistline to the benefits of specific foods, this company is constantly aiming to better the surrounding community through one goal: healthy is happy.

Yet, it’s the people that make things run so smoothly. The name itself, Sabrosa, means “tasty and delicious,” and was conceptualized by Hannah Andreassi, Jay’s daughter and only 14 years old at the time. She additionally developed a guacamole recipe and aids in company marketing. Jay’s wife, Donna, runs the charity division and son Chase handles management and quality control, while his son J.B. is an asset to the marketing program. Brittney Epley is the master chef, evaluating the recipes over the years contributing to the overall success of the company. Other employees are essential in the customer experience, accounting, and teaching the younger generation the correct way of preparing foods, he said.

“At Sabrosa, besides everything reinforcing and supporting our culture, it is important to have the bathrooms, dining room, and kitchen clean. I believe that is a constant difference between us and many other restaurants,” Andreassi detailed.

What makes this company so unique is its devotion to philanthropy. By collecting the first customer check each day at all of their stores, in addition to the tip jar which, in fact, goes towards charity, they deposit the amounts into a charity fund. As of January of this year, Sabrosa has donated money to 61 non-profits, totaling over $66,000. A continuous philanthropic endeavor, the charity of the month for March is Southampton Fresh Air Home.

Visit their website to view their menu, locations and wellness tips.

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Sweet Treats: Crumb Get Some

This article first appeared in the February 21, 2018 issue of The Independent Newspaper


Calverton’s Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cake Co. is, as the name suggests, a company that produces scrumptious crumb cakes. The mother-son team Susan and James Walsh have taken an old-fashioned, family recipe from the good ol’ days of Brooklyn and brought it to the East End.

Clarkson Avenue is named after the street in East Flatbush, New York where Susan Walsh grew up along with her mother, cousins and uncle. Their roots run deep; the house the family resided in was built by Susan’s great-grandfather in the late 1800s and remained in the family through the mid-1970s.

“This recipe was developed in a home kitchen with many attempts at perfection. Family members [were] forced-fed crumb cake until they never wanted to hear those words again,” Susan, who has been a Hampton Bays resident for the past six years, explained.

She added, “In the words of Grandma Marie Mulligan Delia, ‘All good things come to those who wait.'”

It seems “grandma” was right—this recipe for success wouldn’t be available to the public for another two decades.

James grew up devouring his mother’s crumb cake, inspiring his first job at a bagel store in Huntington at 14 years old. The store provided small, Saran Wrapped crumb cakes that couldn’t compare to those at home. Urging his mother to sell her crumb cake failed for years, until he was eventually given the recipe. Twenty years later, Susan caved and Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cake was born.

“It encapsulated exactly where this journey began; it had real meaning to us as a family,” James said. “There are so many Brooklynite and other borough transplants that have settled on the East End. It is great to watch folks take a bite; it instantly brings them back to their roots. That’s what we are all about.”

The company’s tagline is “Crumb Get Some.” James said, “It’s concise, playful, and has a bit of New York attitude that I think we all share, living in the fast-paced New York-Long Island area.”

The crumb cake is available in a variety of flavors. The Blackout collection, a chocolate crumb, pays homage to the original Blackout Cake by Ebingers, a Brooklyn bakery icon of yesteryear. Brooklyn Joe is a fan favorite within the Blackout line; it’s a chocolate cake with coffee ganache and classic crumb. Love Reese’s? Chocolate cake with homemade peanut butter ganache will be added to the collection soon.

James admitted, “I am very much an idea guy, but if not for my mom’s incredible culinary skill, it would be all for naught when it comes to executing the flavors.”

Expected to launch sometime between mid-summer and early fall is a “Cake of the Month.”

During peak season, find these distinctive desserts sold at the Milk Pail in Water Mill, Babinski Farms in Water Mill, and Schmidt’s Market in Southampton. Clarkson Avenue also participates in the Montauk and Sag Harbor farmers markets. Or drop by the Tourism Center on the LIE at exit 52 year-round for a bite.

During charity season, you can find the cakes at Love Bites, A Hamptons Happening, and the Artist and Writers pre-softball event. Coming up in June is the U.S. Open PGA at Shinnecock Hills, where the company will feature its “crumbkins,” bite-sized coffee cakes. Visit their website or


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