LOCAL COPS PROTECT AND SERVE DONUTS
JEFFERY JOHNSTON PHOTOGRAPH
Three cops opened a doughnut shop. This isn’t the beginning of a joke or an April Fools’ Day prank, though given the fact that the store opened on April 1 of this year one can appreciate the humor. Blue Dot Donuts is the latest addition to New Orleans’ doughnut community.
Owned by New Orleans Police Department officers Dennis Gibliant, Ronald Laporte and Brandon Singleton, the novelty of their second career has led to a successful opening. “We never thought that the craze would be so prominent,” says Gibliant.
“That wasn’t our initial intention at all,” Singleton says. “We were just doing our thing, and [the media] was like ‘three cops?’ OK, we’ll go with it.”
Customers stop to take pictures of the uniforms behind the counter, and, some mornings, the streetcars traveling down Canal will stop with tourists. “Police and donuts, it speaks for itself,” says Laporte.
The plan began about a year ago when Singleton had the idea for a doughnut shop below his residence. When the property became unavailable, Gibliant and Laporte entered the picture to help start the business. After settling on the Mid-City location, the three friends spent nights and weekends fixing up the shop, rushing to open the doors. “A few times we’d threaten to hit each other with hammers,” Gibliant says. “So we don’t keep hammers in here anymore.”
“We’re not allowed to carry our guns in here either,” Singleton jokes.
The trio named the shop Blue Dot Donuts after NOPD Sergeant Michael Sposito, who has a small blue dot tattoo from his childhood in the 9th Ward. The group then brought in cutter Michael Williams, who worked in the industry since age 14. He works seven days a week, 1-9 a.m. Monday through Thursday, the team makes between 1,200 and 1,500 doughnuts, and the weekends, that number is “easily” doubled.
The shop now makes more than 50 flavors of doughnuts including customer favorites: maple bacon bars, peanut butter and jam and strawberries and cream along with the traditional yeast, buttermilk and cake donuts – but the menu continues to expand. “To us it’s a doughnut shop, but it’s also a doughnut bakery,” says Gibliant. “It’s here to be creative. My mind races constantly over this.” There is even talks of a seafood doughnut, though some aren’t taking it as seriously as others. “We’ll stay with local, fresh seafood,” says Gibliant. “We’ll put a flash-fried oyster on top of a doughnut, maybe inject it with the same thing they make a Bienville with.”
“This is how we come up with crazy ideas,” Singleton says.
But the doughnuts aren’t just for breakfast. In conjunction with New Orleans Ice Cream, the group also offers ice cream sandwiches made out of Blue Dot’s doughnuts. For example, take an original glazed doughnut, cut in half, add a scoop of New Orleans’ banana foster ice cream and drizzle on some chocolate sauce. Or, one can create his or her own concoction by choosing a favorite doughnut, ice cream and topping.
Despite the light ribbing from colleagues, the trio is enjoying their instant success. They hold modest hopes for the future. “This will always be our baby, whether we’ll go up or out, but we don’t want to become commercialized,” Gibliant says. “We want to stay local. We’re are not looking to be the busiest; we are looking to be the best.”
“We’ve pretty much seen everything in our lives that most people never see,” he continues. “So, it’s kind of nice, being in a job where you can’t seem to satisfy the public, to also be in something where people smile when they come in.”
“You never see someone mad coming in to get a doughnut,” Singleton says. “People always come in happy.”