contributed by Erin Kinchen
Blue Dot Donuts, at 4301 Canal Street, marks the lake side boundary of our restaurant row on Canal Street. It hasn’t been looked at in this blog, so I think that I will introduce it now. I will also use their spelling of donut for the rest of this entry.
It is very blue. At night, the window are illuminated by a blue light, making the little donut shop look otherworldly.
Opened by three cops (I will leave you to make your own joke . . . ) in 2011, the shop is home to more than just the traditional glazed donut. There are specialty cake donuts, donuts named after super heroes,and donuts topped with bacon. On the authority of the counter staff, it is best to call ahead if you are interested in sampling the bacon donuts. I watched them sell out for the day, leaving a few late comers without their salty-sweet fix.
According to a 2011 interview for Lagniappe Magazine, the owners decided that a donut shop would fit into the neighborhood because of the large number of Northerners that have immigrated to the Mid City neighborhood in recent years. In the same interview, they discuss adding churros to the menu to appeal to the large number of Hispanic residents in the neighborhood.
This suggests that the owners of this particular eatery are aware of the demographic changes in Mid City, and are using that knowledge to increase the success of their restaurant. This is one of the newer restaurants in our study. It will be interesting to check back in a few years to see how Blue Dot is doing.
I visited Blue Dot Donuts on a sunny Monday, late in the morning. I live very near to the shop, so I hopped on my bike and pedaled there. On my way, I ran into a friend who lives a few blocks away. He had already been to Blue Dot that morning on his way to classes at Delgado Community College. It surprised him that this would be my first time visiting the shop.
The shop is fairly small, with enough room for the pastry cases and a few tables. The flat screen TV on one wall was tuned to Food Network, and Paula Deen was busy stuffing something with butter. I tried to ignore her as I made my donut selection. There were many types to choose from, but I am a traditionalist when it comes to donuts. I got one regular glazed, and one with chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles, as well as a cup of coffee.
I settled down at one of the inside tables and pulled out my notepad to do some participant observation. No one really batted an eye. There was even another woman in her twenties with a laptop and books out on her own table.
I noticed a wide range of people coming into the shop. The majority of customers were in their twenties and thirties, but some were much older adults or young children. Although most customers were White, there were African American customers, Asian customers, and Hispanic customers visiting the shop during my observation. A customer or group of customers would come in about two minutes or so.
Most of them took their orders to go in white paper bags, but some took advantage of the weather and sat outside at the café tables to enjoy their donuts. One mother with a young son came in and asked for the bacon donut, saying that they had called ahead. The woman at the counter handed them paper bag from behind the counter and mentioned that they were getting the last ones for the day. Some of the next customers asked about them as well. They seem to be very popular! As I mentioned above, it is recommended that you call ahead if you are interested in trying one.
I stayed at Blue Dot Donuts for almost an hour. I don’t think that I have ever spent such a long time eating donuts. It was quite an exercise in self control. I’m glad that I know more about the little blue building that glows at night.
I am curious how the Mid City Market and the Lafitte Greenway will affect the little donut shop. It is possible that people coming into the neighborhood for shopping, or via the Greenway, will take the time to go a few extra blocks and pick up a treat. I think that it is also possible that Blue Dot Donuts, being a little further from the new developments, may stay the neighborhood shop that it is already. It is also interesting to me that the owners have specifically referenced the changing nature of Mid City in their business plan. Perhaps this will allow Blue Dot Donuts to stay flexible and current as Mid City changes in the near future.