Hoffman made the surprise announcement on Facebook, writing: “It is with great loss and sadness to announce that Doughnut Dolly is now closed. We have had the unique privilege of feeding you treats over the last five years in Temescal, three years in Berkeley, and just a few months in San Francisco.”
The Berkeley location, which closed Feb. 26, following a rent dispute with the building’s landlord, also served as the main kitchen for all three doughnut shops. When Hoffman spoke to Nosh in February, she said she planned to find a larger rental kitchen to replace the loss of the Berkeley space. She also planned to shuffle her Berkeley employees around her other shops, and was planning pop-ups at local coffee shops. The transition would be “really seamless,” she said at the time.
The transition was not, it turns out, seamless.
Hoffman wasn’t able to find an affordable rental kitchen. “I looked at the numbers, but I couldn’t save it,” she told Nosh in a phone call today. “I couldn’t afford to make it one more day.”
The San Francisco location, in the Twitter building, had also turned out to be a major issue. It opened in November, but never made much money. Between a longer than expected build-out and a smaller than expected customer base, the shop “put us over the edge,” Hoffman said.
In addition, Hoffman said, the cost of making her doughnuts, which were all rolled and filled by hand, has continued in increase dramatically. She said the cost of vanilla alone has doubled since she first opened. “We have a very labor-intensive product that people weren’t willing to pay for,” Hoffman said.
Making the decision to close “broke my heart,” she said. “I put all I had into the business and I did everything I could [to save it].”
Hoffman said she was trying to “take care of her employees the best I can, but they all need jobs too. … I’m so grateful to all of them.”
Hoffman started Doughnut Dolly as a pop-up, and eventually raised enough money through Kickstarter to open her Temescal location in 2012. The Berkeley location opened in 2014, followed by the San Francisco shop in 2016.
She had a loyal following for her doughnuts. Berkeleyside readers chimed in on Facebook and on our Feb. 24 story with plenty of sad-face emojis.
Benta Kipp wrote: “I’m screaming and kicking on the floor… Noooo!”
Colin Epstein echoed her sentiment: “Aw, man. I was just there for a bit of delicious two days ago. Nothing else like them. This stinks.”
And Rachel commented: “Hannah and Doughnut Dolly has been a terrific presence on Gilman — friendly, welcoming and delicious. My personal favorite was fresh rhubarb filling. Best to you Hannah!”
Hoffman also said she will miss her customers: “I’ve been in the restaurant industry for a long time and I’ve never seen a finer group of human beings than those who came into the shop. I kind of feel like I’ve let them down.”
As for the future of Doughnut Dolly, Hoffman said she is still open to holding future pop-ups, but she wants to “wait for the dust to settle” before planning anything. In the meantime, she has set up an email account for customers to stay in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to keep you posted.