For nearly three years, Franny Buell’s colorful, psychedelic bakery has been bringing Peace, Love & Little Donuts to Canal Fulton. Buell opened the shop in May 2013. The independently owned franchise—the original shop is in Pittsburgh—was the first in Stark County.
“It was simple but fun. We could make a really good product that had the excitement of something new for people, and we really enjoyed that. And we loved playing with new varieties all the time,” she said.
The shop has a core set of doughnuts and ingredients it offers, but the rest of its expansive menu, which ranges from traditional powdered sugar to creative treats such as salted chocolate caramel mocha, is customer-driven.
Bakers aren’t afraid of experimenting with new varieties and honoring customer requests, she said. Customers aren’t limited to choosing the doughnuts on the counter and can ask for anything on the menu to be made on-demand.
The shop, which doesn’t use any type of nuts, can host birthday parties and tours, and caters events including weddings.
Q: What’s a typical day like here?
A: I don’t know that there is a typical day … Days are pretty unpredictable because it’s customer-driven. I would say that we are blessed to have just an amazing crew here … The team tries really hard to accommodate and do a good job.
Q: What sets you apart from a more traditional doughnut shop or bakery?
A: “When you go into a bakery, very often, you have to choose from what’s there. And like right now, we’re frying again, so we can continually make through the day to give the customer what they came in for instead of what’s available.
Q: Do you have a bakery background?
A: “When I was in college, I made cookies in a real similar setting, where you made everything from scratch right in front of your customers. I loved it because your customers were happy. And you were giving them a treat so they were always in a good mood. That’s why I was attracted to this business.”
Q: How do you come up with these flavors?
A: “We play. As a crew, and when customers say things. Yesterday morning, a customer wanted strawberry and banana. We have strawberry icing and banana icing so we could play with that, just mix that, but we started playing around as he was waiting with us and came up with a new combination, and he really liked it. So of course, he came up this morning and ordered a half-dozen of the new formulation of strawberry and banana. It’s really kind of driven by opportunity.”
Q: What are some really unusual combinations you’ve come up with?
A: “We’ve played with, but haven’t been really successful in coming up with something we really, really like using Sriracha and wasabi. (We’re) trying to find new savory-sweet combinations. We’re working on those. And we just came up with a chai doughnut, we like that. We’re just playing, but we’re not there yet. It’s fun because we’ll make a batch of something, and customers (critique).”
Q: What’s your personal favorite flavor?
A: “I like the mocha marble curl. And plain maple. And banana cream pie.”
Q: What are the customer favorites?
A: “We’re known for our maple bacon, and a lot of times, that brings folks in, but I wouldn’t say it’s our No. 1 anymore. It changes … It depends entirely on what’s out (on the counter). We try to put out a variety of fruits and chocolates and vanillas for our daily selection. Lemon bar is super popular. It just surprises me that it really is driven by the eye more than just the variety. They’ll see something and be attracted to it.”