Donuts as artPublished 5:49pm Friday, March 22, 2013
The roosters aren’t even awake yet when Reeva Luecke goes to work on her art.
She starts designing long before the first “cock-a-doodle-doo” and long before most of her customers are even thinking about getting out of bed.
Her inspiration often comes on the spot, drawn from such variant sources as ice cream flavors, cartoon characters, animals, kids’ books, holidays and her customers themselves.
“I like art,” she said. “I like the creative process.”
But Luecke’s art doesn’t hang in a traditional gallery. Rather, her completed works are lined up by the dozens in a glass case each day, soon to be eaten by hungry buyers.
Luecke owns O’doodleDoo’s Donuts on Bridge Road. For five years she craved the life of owning a donut shop, back when she was working at a hotel.
“I hope it keeps like this,” she said of her new business, watching a steady stream of customers choosing flavors from the case recently. “Because I don’t want to get a real job. If you love what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work.”
In the wee hours of every morning, Luecke and her employees begin the creative process in regimented fashion — they measure out exact amounts of flour, baking soda, eggs, milk, water and flavorings. The batter is then mixed and fed into a hopper, which automatically measures and cuts the donuts and drops them into the oil. A conveyor carries them along, and they are eventually flipped and fried again.
Once the donuts are done cooking, the creative process really begins. Almost nothing is off limits to Luecke and her crew — Dr. Seuss characters, hedgehogs, beaches and even imitating other food, such as cheeseburgers and TV dinners.
It was the beach scene, using pretzel sticks and colored coconut to form palm trees, that recently got the O’doodleDoo’s creation listed in January as one of the “most outrageous doughnuts in America” by Fox News’ “M” magazine.
“This list would be sorely remiss without mentioning O’DoodleDoo’s in Suffolk, Virginia,” writer Michael Bartiromo stated in his feature “Six of the Most Outrageous Doughnuts in America.” “With over 300 hand-decorated doughnuts (visit their Facebook page to see which varieties are available today), there’s something for everyone on the menu.”
The pretzel-and-coconut trees that featured at the edge of that creation’s donut beach recently made a new appearance as Truffula trees from “The Lorax” on Dr. Seuss’ birthday in March.
“Any of the 3-D doughnuts are fun,” Luecke said. “You have to have the same sense of humor I do.”
The shop makes two flavors every day — sour cream old-fashioned and red velvet cream cheese. The other spots in the case rotate daily, going by a general outline. For example, every day features something chocolate and something vanilla, donuts topped with fruit and powdered sugar and nuts and sprinkles, sweets flavored with maple and cinnamon and caramel.
Luecke advertises each day’s flavors on Facebook, complete with tantalizing photos.
“People get excited about the flavors,” Luecke said. “They watch for their favorite flavor to come back around.”
Luecke’s current personal favorite is the hippie dip, which features colored dough that appears tie-dyed after it’s fried. But anything that her customers like is OK by her.
The best part about the business is that it’s local, Luecke said. Most people assume it’s part of a chain or beg them to expand to other cities, but Luecke won’t hear of it. Folks ask her if there’s a website where they can submit compliments.
“You don’t have to go home and send an email,” she said. “Just ask one of us.”