First Look: Purvé Donut Stop
Bartender-bakers roll out fresh cake doughnuts with attitude.
Photos: Robbie Dingeman
Two bartenders opened a devoted-to-doughnuts shop in Kaka‘ako, where customers can watch the freshly baked cake doughnuts with sassy names roll off the assembly line.
Mint glazed with Oreo crumble? That’s called a Hulk Smash. Lemon glazed with li hing mui? Sunburnt Haole. Peanut butter glaze with jelly drizzle? “It’s OK … Cuz It’s Your Dog.”
Those were some of the favorites at an in-office tasting session we convened for National Doughnut Day, shortly after the shop’s soft opening earlier in May. The doughnuts come off the line warm, a little crunchy on the outside with a light cake-dough center topped with a fun array of glazes.
Brion Zablan and Nick Cornford
Business partners Brion Zablan, 35, and Nick Cornford, 31, became buddies while bartending at The Modern and cooked up the idea of a food business.
“Everything is made fresh in front of you, not sitting in a case for hours,” Zablan says. The shop is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. The doughnuts come mid-size, good for a snack or breakfast item, without needing to double your workout time at the gym.
They cost $3.25 each but get cheaper if you buy more: $3 for five and $2.75 for 10, so we bought a dozen to make sure we tried all the flavors. (We’re thorough!) The shop started in a sweet-but-tucked away location on Kona Street near Ala Moana. Drive to the ‘Iolani Center up the ramp near the Made in Hawai‘i mural. Whimsically naughty unicorns on the wall add to the playful vibe.
High praise in our office came from self-avowed yeast doughnut fanatic and managing editor Katrina Valcourt. “I’m not usually a fan of cake doughnuts, but these taste more like pound cake—nice and moist. I really liked the O No! Grindz (coffee) and You’re Killing Me Smalls (s’mores).”
Zablan, who’s from Pālolo, has worked in Honolulu’s nightlife scene for 14 years and now works special events as a bartender in the evenings while Cornford still pulls a regular shift at The Modern.
Purvé is pronounced purvey, as in, rhymes with café, and means to provide with goods, such as tasty provisions. And yes, they know that people might not put the accent on the last syllable. But if that more risque pronunciation makes people remember them? That’s OK, too.
Clockwise from top: “You’re Killing Me Smalls,” The “Sanchez,” Sunburnt Haole and Hulk Smash.
Another thumbs up in our office came from account coordinator Dayni Watanabe, who liked the crispy outside/doughy inside and out-of-the-ordinary flavors enough to recommend the shop to friends. “My favorite had to be the Hulk Smash and O Face (lemon glaze with cream cheese drizzle and a Teddy Graham),” she says.
Zablan and Cornford promise to keep experimenting with flavor combinations. Who knows if their general lack of sleep will improve their creative process or just make for some strange but sweet future flavors? We’ll be checking back.
Bring the family down to the Best of Honolulu Festival July 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Honolulu Hale civic grounds. Eat at ‘ono food booths, shop local designers in the marketplace, bring the family to the keiki zone for face painting, balloon animals, rides, games and more. For more information, visit honolulumagazine.com/bestofhonolulu.