BROOKLYNITE TODD JONES CALLS HIMSELF A “DONUTOLOGIST.” You know, just as archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann studied archaeology, namely the archaeology of ancient Troy, donutologist Jones studies donuts, namely sweet, sticky, delicious mini donuts, each a deep-fried doughy circle. Not Dunkin’ Donut donuts, or Starbucks donuts, but hot, fresh mini donuts. “Glaze will come out of my skin if you cut me,” he says.
He’s not only mini-donuts, either, but popcorn, cookies, custom drinks, etc., etc., etc. While you’re munching on one of his highly addictive donuts, then a second and then a third, you’ll have time to see that he’s one of the most upbeat characters you’ll ever meet. “That’s the only way to be—upbeat,” he tells me. Not too long ago he catered his first million-dollar wedding, put together by famed wedding planner Mindy Weiss at the Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She loved his donuts so much that she tweeted her 46,000 followers, he says. From that tweet he has two more affairs to cater, and he’s approaching Puffy. And maybe Oprah. Why not?
But at times his luck has bordered on hellish. He had a 12-year stint going in Brooklyn’s Albee Square Mall until a developer sold the mall for $125 million. The developer took home $100 million and Jones was evicted immediately. He did some street festivals and catered a few weddings and bar mitzvahs until he was offered a place at Dekalb Market. He signed a contract for five years—“I knew it was temporary,” he says—and invested $30,000 in his shop. More developers arrived, and he was evicted again only a year and a half later —not long enough to recoup his investment. So he started working out of his bakery van again, and soon he was offered yet another location. But before he could move in, Superstorm Sandy hit, and the following Monday his van was stolen, along with $60,000 worth of equipment. Oh yeah: He had no insurance.
But now with his recent catering success, Jones is searching for another shop and he also wants to start franchises across the country. He’s started meeting with investors. “That’s what’s on the table. If I can get $250,000 I can put a Cuzin’s Duzin in every Walmart across the country,” he says. “It’s a billion-dollar industry, and we can carve out a niche.
“Once you eat a donut you’re a Cuzin for life.”
Executive Editor Phil Scott is the author of seven books and numerous magazine articles.