Culture » Restaurant News

Misfit Doughnuts reopens after fire


I remember heading to work early in the morning of March 27 quite vividly. As I drove west on Monroe Avenue, I could see off in the distance flashing red and blue lights. "That looks like more than a traffic stop," I thought.

Sure enough, as drove closer, I could see multiple fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars blocking the street. Something serious was happening on my commute path; there was a building fire. As I rerouted to the highway, I hoped that everyone got out alive, and when I got to work, I looked online and braced myself for a casualty count. There were no deaths, but there were a few injuries. Sadly, though, in addition to multiple families being displaced, most of the businesses, including the vegan bakery Misfit Doughnuts and Treats, could not return.

But fans of the shop can now rejoice. After nearly five months since the four-alarm fire, Misfit will reopen Saturday, August 24, in the South Wedge on 133 Gregory Street, a spot formerly occupied by Jamaican restaurant Peppa Pot (don't worry; that biz just moved to 522 East Main Street). Excuse the phoenix cliché, but Misfit truly rose from its former ashes to a larger, brighter space.

All-vegan bakery Misfit Doughnuts and Treats has reopened at a larger space in the South Wedge. - FILE PHOTO
  • All-vegan bakery Misfit Doughnuts and Treats has reopened at a larger space in the South Wedge.

For those not familiar with Misfit Doughnuts, owner Jennifer Johnson specializes in vegan doughnuts and other treats. Though she opened the original location in the midst of a sort of "craft doughnut renaissance," her menu stands out, not just because of the vegan aspect, but also because of her imaginative crafting of flavors.

I've found that while many doughnut shops have a wide variety of not-so-typical flavors, their vegan offerings will be one dense, plain, round brick. If I'm lucky, there will be two flavored bricks to choose from. For those trying to incorporate more plant-based foods in their diets, it often feels like the vegan choices are afterthoughts.

Johnson has placed vegan as THE choice in her shop, and the selection is vast, so long as she has the inventory. In the old shop, flavors would go quickly, so the early bird would the cruller. There is also a vegan breakfast sandwich that people rave about (which I've yet to try, because I am always running just a few minutes too late). With luck, the larger space will mean larger inventory, which means I'll finally capture my tofu whale.

Misfit Doughnuts owner Jennifer Johnson. - FILE PHOTO
  • Misfit Doughnuts owner Jennifer Johnson.

Of the offerings I have tried, the lemon lavender doughnut is a favorite. Johnson marries the sweetness and zest so well that neither overpowers the other. My absolute favorite, however, was the special-order sufganiyot (Kosher jelly doughnut) that Misfit made for my friend's Hanukkah party. Each one was the size of an adult face. As much as I wanted to finish one on my own, I know my limits, and I had to split it with two other partygoers, which kind of makes sense. 'Twas the season for mitzvahs. My piece of sufganiyah was rich and dense as a homemade one would be. It wasn't the best vegan doughnut I had; it was the best doughnut I've had.

Johnson put as much care into the new space's design as she puts into her recipes. The interior is as sunny as it was when it was Peppa Pot, with a fresh coat of lemon-hued paint on the walls. She incorporated the works of local artists, as well. A large Mondrian-esque stained-glass piece from Unified Vision Studios hangs from the ceiling, and the walls are adorned with parts of the mural from the Monroe location that could be salvaged. And the outside wall was even blessed with an owl mural by Rochester-based, world-renowned artist Justin Suarez AKA Mr. Prvrt.