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Sift Bake Shop owners open Young Buns Doughnuts in Mystic

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Mystic — Around 6:50 a.m. Wednesday, Inge Pilgermayer was first in line outside Young Buns Doughnuts with her mother, Maria, on the fifth day the doughnut shop was open. She had driven by Monday after 7 a.m. and saw more than 25 people in line, so she figured they should get there before opening.

The Mystic resident was sad when she saw Bartleby's Café closed in May but excited to see a doughnut shop was going into 46 W. Main St. Tapping her fingers together excitedly, she questioned, "Who doesn't love doughnuts?"

Behind the Pilgermayers was Harlan Williams, a second-shift Electric Boat employee who typically goes to the gym in Mystic at 7 a.m. but worked out at 5:45 a.m. to get to Young Buns early. He was excited to try the blueberry cake doughnut.

Ten people gathered behind them before the shop opened, all wearing masks, but this was nothing compared to Sunday, when Young Buns owner Adam Young said people were outside with lawn chairs.

This is the kind of attention you generate from running two successful bakeries — Young and his wife, Ebbie, run Sift Bake Shop around the corner in Mystic and in Watch Hill — and being crowned the Food Network's Best Baker in America.

Since the Youngs are bakers, people have called their kids, 4-year-old Stella and 10-month-old Ella, Young Buns. But the doughnut shop name "was completely an impulse decision," Young said.

After Bartleby's closed, Young said building owner Leo Roche — who owns Harp and Hound, The Brazen Hen, and The Black Sheep — approached him about the space.

"It's a difficult thing to turn down. The location is just amazing," Young said.

He said despite the COVID-19 pandemic, he's always looking for opportunities, and he realized he was in a position to get people back to work. Young said Sift Bake Shop has more than 100 employees between Mystic and Watch Hill, and he now has another 20-25 employees at Young Buns.

The head baker at the doughnut shop is Brenda Maerkle, who was sous chef at Sift. Maerkle explained that Young Buns sells yeast-leavened doughnuts and cake doughnuts, and each one is individually punched by hand. Maerkle said she comes in at 3 a.m., those who roll the cake dough and do the frying come in at 4, and garnishers come in at 5.

"To achieve the perfect doughnut, believe it or not, is actually very difficult to do," Young said, noting the size, oil temperature and time in the fryer must be just right.

Young Buns has nine staple doughnuts: old-fashioned, vanilla glaze, cinnamon sugar, triple chocolate, sprinkles, blueberry cake, a monthly rotating jelly doughnut (peach bourbon jam this month), Mystic cream pie (like Boston cream but topped with toasted pistachios and sea salt), and Young Bun buttercrunch.

There will also be four to six specials each month; the specials until Sept. 1 are piña colada, key lime pie, PB&J, s'mores and red, white and berry. Maerkle said they're also working on creating a gluten-free cinnamon sugar variety. Doughnuts are $2.75 to $3.50 apiece, and the shop also sells coffee from the Pawtucket-based New Harvest Coffee Roasters.

Young said they jokingly call Young Buns Doughnuts — or YBD — the "anti-Sift." Compared to Sift, he wanted something that was "one speed" and one kind of product. He said the "hype for doughnuts is much different than the hype behind croissants," and views Young Buns as "a little edgier" and "a little more casual."

Since doughnuts are made fresh and meant to be eaten immediately, Young said he thinks doughnut shops are a specific business model where it's acceptable to let people know that if they're not there by 11 a.m., they might not get a doughnut.

Young Buns is advertising its hours as 7 a.m. to sell out, and will be open every day but Tuesday going forward. He said the shop sold 600 doughnuts Saturday, 1,200 Sunday and just over 2,000 both Monday and Tuesday.

Young said this Tuesday that doughnuts have been selling out between 10:30 and 11 a.m.

e.moser@theday.com

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