Zen and the Art of Donut-Making: Uncle Dood’s Delivers More Than Donuts in Toms River
Living at the Jersey Shore, we are accustomed to the natural scents of the ocean in the summer and the delicious aromas of pizza coming out of the oven, but there may not be anything sweeter than the smell of fresh donuts in the morning.
Downtown Toms River has become familiar with that unmistakable smell, which can be traced to 4 Robbins Street, home of Uncle Dood's Donuts. You'll know you arrived when you see a crowd of happy patrons with smiles on their faces and donuts in their hands.
Since opening up shop in the winter of 2012, Uncle Dood's Donuts has become a sensation in and around Toms River as word of the tasty treats has spread across the area like chocolate frosting across a warm donut.
All ages seem to roll through the store. There’s a donut for everybody.
What makes Uncle Dood's Donuts so special? To start, the donuts are all made fresh daily and are iced and topped to order. Unique flavor profiles range from the simple ('As Jane' - just the donut, no topping) to the divine (try the 'Vermont Swine', featuring maple icing & bacon bits). Eat them right away and the decadent dessert will literally melt right in your mouth.
Aside from the outrageous creations, there is an undeniable connection between the customers and staff. There are plenty of kids - and even more kids at heart - that frequent the shop, with many of the regulars greeted on a first-name basis. During the school year, students from neighboring Toms River High School South flock to Dood's like tourists to the beach.
We recently sat down with Uncle Dood himself, Dominic LiVolsi, and got the inside scoop on how everyone's favorite donut shop started and what customers can expect in the future.
Can you describe the typical Uncle Dood's customer?
All ages seem to roll through the store. There's a donut for everybody. We have a 94 year old woman that comes in and orders Fruity Pebble donuts and I think 'oh for your grandkids' and no, they're for her.
How early have you seen people lined up for donuts?
When we do cannoli cream donuts, people line up pretty early. They're a pretty big draw and only do them on special occasions. I would say earliest, sometimes, 4:30 in the morning, sometimes earlier, but I like the company.
You change your menu monthly and allow customers to vote for the 'Peoples Choice' - what are the most popular donut on the menu?
For Peoples Choice, the Irish Car Bomb is very popular. The Boo Basil is a repeat offender. The tequila lime (Training Wheels donut). It varies from month to month, what the people like. Sometimes it's the Bart, with the Butterfinger.
For those wondering, the 'French Toast' donut is Uncle Dood's personal favorite.
You haven't been afraid to experiment with themed donuts. There was a very popular Star Wars themed menu for the opening of 'The Force Awakens' and you recently featured a Sloppy Joe Donut for National Donut Day. Where do these ideas come from?
I can't take myself too seriously - I do make donuts for a living. So, to play around? Not everyone gets to go to work and play.
Can we get a sneak peak on what the next theme might be?
One word: Boozy.
Have you had any memorable donut fails that didn't work out for some reason?
I've had less popular donuts. This month, our Sun Seed donut, with the sunflower seed icing and toasted sunflower seeds - a very healthy donut, very excellent - not very popular. We've also had a roasted garlic, caramel icing with a chicharone crumble - also a very excellent donut - not very popular.
Are you open to the possibility of expanding?
Anything's possible. If I was to expand, I'd want to be in love. Nothing in the works right now, but the door is open - anything can happen.
How did you find the money to open your business?
Begged, borrowed, steeled. Sold all my motorcycles, applied for grants and were lucky enough to get a small business grant through HUD.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking of launching a small business, what would it be?
Do it. It's very hard work, but it's very rewarding.
Open Monday-Sunday, from 6:30AM - 1:00PM, Uncle Dood's Donuts is located at 4 Robbins Street in Downtown Toms River. Follow Uncle Dood's Donuts on Facebook to stay up to date on the latest menus and specials. Call ahead orders are encouraged at (609) 462-3517.
WATCH: How The Donuts Get Made
This content was written in partnership with Lendio. Lendio is a free marketplace for small business loans where lenders fight for your business. Lendio has partnered with over 75 lenders to offer small business owners access to working capital to start or grow their business. Contact Lendio today to find the right business loan to fit your business needs.