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Food & Drink

Bits & Bites: Diablo Doughnuts heads to county, Cloudy Donut returns and Cocina Luchadoras faces ‘challenging times’

Good news for sweet tooths: the Baltimore region’s dessert options are expanding.

Today’s column is packed with sweet news: I’ve got details about a big move for Diablo Doughnuts, the expansion of vegan cinnamon bun brand Cinnaholic and the return of Cloudy Donut Co.

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I also have updates about Cocina Luchadoras, local winter restaurant weeks and the arrival of a Louisiana fast-food favorite in Maryland.

Diablo Doughnuts heads to the county

Diablo Doughnuts is relocating from South Baltimore to Nottingham in Baltimore County.

This one’s a little bittersweet for city residents.

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Diablo Doughnuts, the shop known for creative treats with quirky names like the Fruity Pebbles-flavored Unicorn Farts and the maple-and-bacon-topped Panty Dropper, is headed to Baltimore County.

Diablo Doughnuts will close its South Baltimore store on Jan. 22, owner Michael Roslan said. A new location, at 7698 Belair Road in Nottingham, will follow soon afterward: Roslan hopes to have the county spot open by early February.

There were several reasons behind the decision to move, he said: the doughnut shop’s lease on Hanover Street is up this spring, and he wanted to move his business closer to his home in Baltimore County. Roslan said he’s also tired of sparring with city agencies after a two-year-long misunderstanding involving the store’s business license.

In the new spot, Diablo Doughnuts will sell its usual doughnut flavors and cinnamon buns, as well as a host of new menu items, including breakfast sandwiches and croissants. The store will be primarily a carryout business, with a few seats in the front.

“All the stuff we’ve wanted to do, we’ll be able to do now,” Roslan said.

The Fells Point native, who started his doughnut business in 2013 out of the kitchen of a Fells Point pizzeria, said he’s not ruling out opening another shop in the city one day.

“I would love to be in the city still,” he said.

For now, he and his wife, Diablo Doughnuts co-owner Emily Roslan, have their hands full with the move, a 1-year-old son and a new beer collaboration with DuClaw Brewing Co. called Unicorn Farts After Dark.

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Michael’s brother, Scott Roslan, is also preparing to open a Diablo Doughnuts outpost in Richmond, Virginia.

Cloudy Donut Co. is back

This weekend’s weather forecast: partly cloudy skies, with a 100% chance of a Cloudy Donut.

The Baltimore-born vegan doughnut store will be back in business in Northeast Baltimore’s Lauraville neighborhood starting Saturday, after a hiatus of about a month and a half. Cloudy Donut Co.’s director of partnerships, Zewiditu Jewel Ruffin, who goes by Zewiditu Jewel, said the sweet shop will be open on weekends moving forward, with hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Cloudy Donut took a break in Baltimore late last year as the doughnut brand launched a new outpost in New York City’s Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. The chain’s other Charm City store, in Federal Hill, will reopen in the coming weeks, Jewel said.

In the interim, “we expanded our systems and processes,” she added. “We wanted to make sure that quality is exactly where it needs to be.”

At the Lauraville shop, Cloudy Donut’s return will come with some new menu items. In addition to doughnuts in flavors like sweet potato pie, blackberry mint mojito and white chocolate macadamia, the store will now sell butter pecan cinnamon rolls and brown butter chocolate chip cookies — all vegan, of course.

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You might want to phone your order in ahead of time: Ruffin said Cloudy Donut will be encouraging preorders, at least during the colder months, when foot traffic past the store is sparse.

Cinnaholic expands

Gourmet vegan cinnamon roll chain Cinnaholic is opening Jan. 13 in Gambrills.

Speaking of vegan cinnamon rolls: Gambrills will add a new spot to sample the dessert this week.

Gourmet bakery chain Cinnaholic opens its newest location Friday, Jan. 13, at the Waugh Chapel Towne Center. All of the treats from this Atlanta-based company are plant-based, dairy- and egg-free. Diners can customize their cinnamon rolls by choosing from more than 20 frosting flavors and toppings.

The chain, which also sells edible cookie dough, brownies and cookies, already has a Baltimore location at the Rotunda shopping center in Hampden. The company is on a growth spurt, with 70 locations already open in the United States and Canada, 30 in development and another 50 in the pipeline, according to a news release. A spokesperson for Cinnaholic told the Sun that there are at least two more locations of the cinnamon shop in the works for the Baltimore region: one at the Canton Crossing shopping center, and the other in Owings Mills.

Customers who stop by the Gambrills grand opening between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday can claim a cinnamon roll of their choice for $2.

Cocina Luchadoras is still in the fight

Cocina Luchadoras, a beloved spot for tacos, tortas and burritos in Upper Fells Point, is in the midst of some “challenging times,” according to owner Rosalyn Vera.

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The restaurant has been struggling with the slow winter season and skyrocketing prices on everything from packaging to heads of lettuce. “It’s decimated our bottom line,” Vera wrote on a recent Go Fund Me campaign asking for customer support.

Rosalyn Vera, owner of Cocina Luchadoras, holds a plate of tacos in her restaurant, which is located in Fells Point. This rebel stronghold for taco lovers offers outside seating in the warmer months and a delectable assortment of handmade sopes, pozole and Mexican beverages.

Reached by phone, the Cocina Luchadoras founder said strong takeout sales carried her business through the worst of the pandemic. But growing competition and inflation have dealt a heavy blow in recent months.

Lettuce — a staple in many of Cocina Luchadoras’ dishes — cost $100 a case just a few weeks ago, Vera said. Though many restaurants have had to raise their prices to balance the books, she fears that too steep of a hike will drive away loyal customers in the neighborhood.

“Even though I have customers that come out of different areas, there’s still a community where my restaurant is that is not earning top dollars,” she said. “I just can’t raise my prices $2, $3 — they’re not going to come in, they’re not going to feel welcome.”

Vera says she knows her situation is not unique in the industry. But she decided to issue a call for support because she knows the 5-year-old restaurant is special to a lot of Baltimoreans. She said she also wants to support her five employees as best she can.

“It’s not about getting rich or anything like that,” she said. “I had to make a decision on what to do because I was already back on rent and trying to catch up on bills. It’s really hard, but I know that people love the restaurant and everything that we have created together, the community and myself.”

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The Go Fund Me campaign has so far raised about $4,000, Vera said (the online fundraiser listed $6,520 raised as of Wednesday, but some of that money is from a prior campaign, in 2020).

She’s hopeful about Cocina Luchadoras’ future. Sales have started to pick up in recent weeks, she’s been planning pop-ups with businesses including Mt. Vernon’s Wet City and the Go Fund Me has helped to pay off some overdue bills.

“Baltimore has definitely inspired me to keep on going,” Vera said.

Raising Cane’s comes to Maryland

Raising Cane’s, the popular Louisiana-based chain known for its fried chicken fingers, has arrived in Maryland.

The fast food brand’s first local store debuted Thursday at 4 W. Towsontown Blvd. The store celebrated the grand opening with live music, a $1,000 donation to the Towson High School Booster Club and giveaways, including a Free Cane’s For a Year award.

The restaurant, which also serves up crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw and sweet tea, will be open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m.

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Winter Restaurant Weeks are here

It’s time for some dining deals: Winter restaurant weeks around the region are back this month.

The season kicks off Jan. 13 with Baltimore County Restaurant Week, which runs through Jan. 22 and features special menus from more than 40 restaurants. Howard County Restaurant Week follows soon after, running Jan. 16-29.

In the city, Baltimore Restaurant Week is Jan. 27-Feb. 5. This year’s promotion features prix fixe menus for $35, $45 or $55 at more than 70 participating restaurants. Newcomers this year include Bmore Taqueria, Baltimore Seafood, Eat.Drink.Relax, Mera Kitchen Collective and Franchesca’s Empanadas Cafe. Or pay a visit to a time-honored favorite, like The Helmand and Sotto Sopra.


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