By George Culver
The old gas station at Kings Grant Rd. and Virginia Beach Blvd. has always been there; I remember filling up at those pumps back in the ‘80s. Several years back it just shutdown and sat abandoned, overgrown grass and all. Living in Kings Grant, I would always pass by the spot and wonder if anything was going to happen with it. It’s in a good location with great visibility. Then one day there was activity. Trucks and equipment came in and started clearing the lot. After the old fuel storage tanks were removed and the ground was leveled I started hearing rumors that a donut shop that was going to open up there. Duck Donuts, they said, and people who have been to the Outer Banks seem to love them.
I love donuts, let’s do this!
Duck Donuts first opened its doors in 2007, it was a joint effort between Russell A. DiGilio and Robin Griffith. According to their site, they were inspired to open a donut shop in the Outer Banks when they realized they couldn’t find a fresh donut down there during their family trips. The business now has four stores in North Carolina (Carolla, Duck, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk) and two in Virginia (Virginia Beach and Richmond). For Virginia Beach, this was big news. There has been the long-standing Krispy Kreme shop down the boulevard and a spattering of Dunkin’ Donuts but something “home-grown” and kind of local was exciting. Norfolk, Chesapeake and Suffolk have small donut shops, it was about time Virginia Beach had one too.
The donuts are made to order, while you watch. The two machines behind the counter run like clockwork. It’s mesmerizing watching the raw dough rings fall into the melted soy shortening, float down a bit, then get flipped. They make their way to a short conveyer belt into a collection pan where they’re plucked out and then placed directly into a customer’s box. The outside of the donut has a nice crispiness to it and the inside is moist cake. Definitely best enjoyed fresh and hot. What’s different about Duck Donuts compared to the other Virginia Beach donut joints is that you can custom build you order.
There are order forms in the store—they’re available on their website too—that allow you to conveniently check off what you’d like. Bare, glazed, peanut butter, lemon, sprinkles, coconut—you want it, they’ve got it. Word on that street is you can even ask for off-the-menu items too. The most popular donut is the Maple with Bacon. Fresh, hot donuts are dipped in a warm maple glaze and then real bacon bits are sprinkled on top. They’re as good as they sound.
Opening week for Duck Donuts was a bit overwhelming. There were large crowds that formed a line out of the door. The buzz about the place had been running around town for weeks. If it wasn’t a customer familiar with the product, it was the curious who have been waiting to try one of these things since the word spread. Positive reviews have been pouring out from customers who have had a chance to try them, most complaints have to do with the wait. With most new businesses in the area this is nothing new. It happened with the first food truck rodeo, brewery openings, etc… It’s a good thing, people want this stuff in the area and it’s making its way here.
If you want to miss the crowds, visit when they first open at 6:00 AM. During the week they’re open till 3:00 PM Sunday-Wednesday and Thursday-Saturday they close at 7:00 PM. Even when I’m driving by the place around 5:00 PM I see people outside of the store after it’s closed, trying to figure out how they missed their donut. The drive-thru isn’t in operation yet and parking can be a bit tricky. When you do get your donuts, they offer Kill Devil Coffee and juice you can drink to wash it all down.