Bay Ridge

How to survive in the donut business for four decades

Eye on Real Estate: And other cool stuff we found out during our Night At Mike's

February 25, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Head baker Tino Cholula presides over the kitchen of pastry lovers' paradise Mike's Donuts. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Cheaper By The Dozen.

This is a concept they take seriously at Mike’s Donuts.

A donut’s a dollar at the Bay Ridge shop — but customers pay only $7.50 for a dozen and get a 13th one for free.

We had a chance to talk business when we were at the Fifth Avenue pastry lovers’ paradise the other night, getting a good look at the art of old-fashioned donut-making. See related stories.

While batches of yeast donuts were sitting in a warm cabinet called a proof box so the dough would rise, co-owner Gus Neamonitis took a break from the kitchen to chat.

So how does his family manage to keep donut prices customer-pleasingly low? We wanted to know.

Good relationships with vendors keep a lid on spending, he answered.

Also, “we’re on top of things. We’re efficient. There’s no waste,” he said.

And the landlords are easy to deal with.

His dad, Mike Neamonitis, who founded the shop in 1976, and mom, Christina, own 6822 Fifth Ave., the small retail and residential building where the donut shop is located.

“They’re very fair landlords,” Gus said with a smile.

The couple purchased the property for $275,000 in 1993 from Helmut Meyer and Ewald Meyer, city Finance Department records indicate.

The sellers, from whom they’d been renting the storefront for Mike’s Donuts, gave them the opportunity to buy the building when their lease was up, Gus said.

Before Mike’s opened, the Meyers had operated an ice cream parlor in the space, Gus added. There are old-fashioned swivel stools at Mike’s that came from the ice cream shop.

Gus talked about what has helped the shop to to survive for almost four decades.

“Consistency,” he said. “We don’t rock the boat.

“The donut you get now is the same-tasting donut from 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. People like that.”

WHO’S WHO AT MIKE’S

Mike Neamonitis joined us for part of the evening.

At age 75, he handles the shop openings on Saturdays and Sundays. The opening time is 4 a.m. He doesn’t want to retire.

By the way, the eatery is open every day of the year but Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter.

Also by the way, other family members who currently work at Mike’s Donuts include Mike’s wife (who is Gus’s mom), Christina, and one of the couple’s daughters (who is Gus’s sister), Dina Rosvoglou, and her teenage sons Mike and Kosta.

Mike’s and Christina’s son-in-law (who is Gus’s and Dina’s brother-in-law) John Kantarellis and his teenage son Nicholas also work at the shop.

Gus and his sisters helped out at the shop as kids. They all graduated from college, and could have decided on careers in other industries.

“We never wanted to let it go,” he said of the shop. “It worked for us.” 


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