Duck Donuts’ made
Duck Donuts is counterintuitive in the sweetest possible way.
If there’s an archetype doughnut-shop experience, it revolves around looking at the colorful, circular treats in a shiny display case and choosing your favorite flavor—or today’s favorite—to start your day, if not requesting a dozen baked, blissful beauties to take with you. But at Duck Donuts, a North Carolina-based franchise that opened its first local shop on the Strip in front of Horseshoe Las Vegas, the doughnuts are made fresh to order after you choose your own flavors and toppings.
Even on the bustling Boulevard, where customers from all over the world want to grab a quick and tasty bite on the way to their next Vegas activity, these customized creations are coming out hot and fresh until the wee hours.
“And nobody else is really selling doughnuts on the Strip,” says franchise owner Gary Kopel, who also operates five stores in California. “Of the two big brands, Krispy Kreme has mostly moved away, gone from being huge to almost nothing on the Strip, and Dunkin has focused on coffee. There’s no fast breakfast on the Strip, unless you want to go to Starbucks and get a heated-up sandwich, and some people don’t want to sit down for every single breakfast they eat when in Vegas, so we’ve been doing well because of that.”
And also, because of doughnuts. Everybody loves ’em. Duck’s signature vanilla cake doughnut gets glazed first in a classic coating or your choice of cinnamon-sugar, chocolate, vanilla, maple, lemon or other options. Then add rainbow sprinkles, graham cracker crumbs, chopped bacon, peanuts and more, and finish it off with a hot fudge, marshmallow, salted caramel or other flavored drizzle. Custom doughnuts cost $5; build your own dozen for $38.
“I’m a sweets person, and when I first heard about Duck Donuts, I had to try them,” Kopel says. “I heard about it, I read about it, and when I tried them, I knew we had to do this right now.”
We’re just not accustomed to devouring fresh-made doughnuts. But Kopel is hoping Vegas visitors and locals will continue to fall in love with the brand so he can expand, on and off the Strip. After all, Duck Donuts was started in a tourist town, the Outer Banks beaches of Duck, North Carolina, feeding families on vacation.
So far, the Grand Bazaar Shops spot is moving a ton of cinnamon-sugar doughnuts, passing out samples to passersby and luring them in for more. But familiar flavors like maple bacon, blueberry pancake, chocolate-covered strawberry, s’mores and chocolate caramel crunch are ready and waiting, and the doughnut breakfast sandwich of bacon, egg and cheese ($8) is among the top-sellers. Coming soon: boozy lemonade drinks, another obvious fit for the Vegas Strip.
DUCK DONUTS Grand Bazaar Shops at Horseshoe, 714-410-6611, duckdonuts.com. Daily, 8 a.m.-2 a.m.
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Brock Radke is an award-winning writer and columnist who currently occupies the role of editor-at-large at Las Vegas Weekly magazine. ...DUCK DONUTS