Visited: Friday, December 16, 2016 at 2:30 p.m.
I get the sense that there are many families like us who know Duck Donuts from vacationing on the Outer Banks. That’s where we first encountered it, in Kill Devil Hills. And that’s where we came to love a box of warm, gooey Duck Donuts.
And now a little bit of that maple-frosted, bacon-crumbled vacationy goodness has come to central Ohio.
If you’ve been to a Duck Donuts before, you’ll find this location to feel exactly the same. Obviously the branding is very well controlled with the franchises.
And if you’ve never been before, expect a place that’s brightly colored with light blue walls, lots of duck-themed branding (the original donut shop is in Duck, North Carolina), enticing photos of donuts, and most likely a small line.
Duck Donuts uses a simple and smart model: little fryers cook up one base type of donut, a soft and spongy cake donut, and then you order from a huge variety of frostings, glazes, and toppings.
Once you order, the team assembles the right number of donuts, the dips or drizzles them with the right toppings. This lets you customize to your heart’s content.
Glass walls let you watch the assembly line. We visited on their opening day, and even in the late afternoon the wait topped 30 minutes, although the team seemed to be handling it well.
The ordering system can be a little confusing at first, but there’s a menu on the wall behind the counter, plus there are paper sheets you can fill out and simply hand to the cashier. If you can’t decide which combinations you like, they have a small list of suggested ones.
Duck Donuts also does breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and sundaes. I like their little kid’s meal, which is a donut and a carton of milk served in a frisbee.
I can’t say I’ve had a bad donut there, but I’m partial to the peanut butter icing and the maple bacon donuts. My heart may always be with heavier cake donuts, but Duck Donuts are a treat. I think their success lies in the base donut not being too sweet, so when it’s coated with chocolate and crumbled Oreos, it’s not a complete sugar bomb. They make for a fun little treat. It’s probably good that they’re not in our neighborhood (yet, I should say, because you never know), because we’d make excuses to stop by far too often.