Hole in one

Joe Del Carlo

Photo By Devanie Angel

Joe Del Carlo grew up around donuts and still lives the sweet life, working 12 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week. His parents, Joe and Cathy Del Carlo, started The Donut Nook at 958 East Ave. back in 1978, when Joe was 4 years old. He and his mom ran the shop after his father died in 1996, and a few years later sold it to a longtime family friend. About four years ago, Joe bought it back. The ‘70s-era round tables and swivel chairs and ‘80s Ms. Pac Man/Galaga game dominate the dining room, which has recently been spruced up by Del Carlo’s girlfriend, Jodi Putnam, who he’s known since they were 15. In the donut-making area, which customers can view through a window, there’s tons of equipment, including the same types of tools for cutting holes, bars and bear claws that have been used for generations. The Nook is open 24 hours a day, delivers and sells wholesale and is no relation to Helen’s Donut Nook downtown.

What was it like being a ‘donut kid’?

It was fun. All my buddies loved it, and my dad would bring donuts to school. I was a fat little boy. … I used to play in the mud in the empty lot where Burger King is now.

Do you eat a lot of donuts?

Not anymore. I used to eat chocolate bars and chocolate cake donuts. My friends say I stink like a donut, but I don’t even smell it anymore.

What’s the most popular donut?

The glazed.

Do you have a specialty?

The chocolate chip square, which has chocolate chips and cinnamon inside—one of my night bakers came up with that—and the peanut butter square. We’ve shipped those to [customers] outside the state.

You probably get a lot of repeat business.

We have customers who’ve been coming here for 30 years. They call it “the guys at the round table.” [My favorite thing] is the customers, meeting people—and working for myself.

Whatever happened to the bakers’ dozen?

Now it’s buy 10, get two free [on the big donuts] and buy nine, get three free [on smalls].

Any thoughts on Krispy Kreme?

I never went there. A lot of my customers went there and said it was too sweet; like eating nothing. I think it was a fad.

Do you think you could beat me at Ms. Pac Man?

Of course. But I usually play Galaga.