As soon as you walk into the shop, the sweet aroma of fresh doughnuts overwhelms your senses, and your taste buds immediately start demanding their turn. The difficulty comes when trying to decide which of the 30 or so varieties of doughnut treats at Nicola’s Donuts to purchase.
Opened in 1982 by Joe and Kathy Nicola, the shop at 901 West Busch Blvd. was long a popular institution when sisters Rachel Waatti and Michelle Kaw purchased it in 2011. Wisely, the sisters chose not to change the name of the shop or the recipes that had earned it such a loyal following.
“Many people have long-time memories of the shop on Busch Boulevard, since it has been in that area for more than 30 years,” said Waatti.
Along with the variety of doughnuts and pastries are Nicola’s weekly specials, unique candy-themed doughnut creations that earned the shop a No. 19 ranking in Travel + Leisure Magazine’s America’s Best Donuts feature in 2010. Snickers, peanut butter and jelly, S’mores, Oreo and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup are just a few of the flavors that show up as weekly specials.
“Our customers always look forward to our weekly specials, but we are known for our glazed doughnut, and customers love our cinnamon twirls and apple fritters,” Waatti adds.
Last year, Nicola’s Donuts opened a second location at 15006 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Carrollwood, but that’s not the only expansion the shop has seen. Taking customer suggestions to heart, Nicola’s has developed new flavors, including the recently added sour cream doughnut, which has proven to be popular.
“Our baker is very creative, so we have flavors customers wouldn’t find anywhere else, such as apple Danish doughnut, apple spice doughnut and a banana split doughnut, which is a longjohn with cream in the middle and chocolate, peanuts and a cherry,” Waatti said. “We even have a giant 9-inch-by-9-inch doughnut that people often order as a birthday cake.”
Baker George Aldarondo has more than 50 years baking experience and has worked with a number of big name doughnut chains, but he is quick to cite Nicola’s as the best doughnuts he’s tasted.
The North Dale Mabry shop is the place to go to find Nicola’s popular cupcake creations and pastries as well.
For details, visit www .nicolasdonuts.com, or call (813) 932-1303 for the Busch Boulevard location or (813) 960-7768 for the N. Dale Mabry Highway shop.