Surprise Opening Alert: Cool Disco Donuts (Pictures)

An ’80s-inspired shop brings doughnuts, cereal milk, and graffiti together at last. 

The dough mavens: Malachi Broadnax (crowned prince of doughnutery), Brian Scott (partner), Stephanie MacGlaughlin (head pastry chef/dougnut queen), Ryan Moore, a.k.a. “El Flan” (partner), and owner Aaron “Disco” Gordon. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Sorry, pie, macarons, and lovepops: Looks like you’ll never make it as the ‟new cupcake.”

We already knew doughnut-loving pastry chefs were plotting a coup against the confection’s reign when both GBD and Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken announced plans to serve fried dough and crispy birds in 2013.  Now comes a third surprise contender for the crown: Cool Disco Donuts, soft-opening in Dupont this Friday.

Owner Aaron Gordon knows something about keeping en vogue in the eating scene. The Wilson High School graduate started TangySweet, his line of Greek-style frozen yogurt shops, back in 2008 when the icy stuff still needed an introduction. Red Velvet and its siblings arrived in the first major cupcake wave soon after; Gordon’s most recent projects include the fast-casual salad spot Rabbit in Clarendon and Drafting Table on 14th Street. When the original TangySweet location at 2029 P Street, Northwest, shuttered, he took the opportunity to open a new concept in the space

“When you get these trends, there’s so much seriousness involved,” he says. “We wanted to go the opposite way in our vibe and look.”

What that means: graffiti, ’80s-style track suits, and and the likes of “Sardines” by the Junkyard Band and Prince’s “Purple Rain” blasting from a boom box, all of which you may find in the shop come four o’clock Friday. The old-school aesthetic is an homage to the Washington that Gordon grew up in, when go-go bands like Rare Essence ruled the game and graffiti artist Cool “Disco” Dan tagged every other surface in the city. The name of the business is a nod to the underground operator, though he has no official affiliation. Another local street artist, Juan Pineda, is behind the vibrant designs. 

Things are more serious when it comes to the actual doughnuts—at the shop purposely abbreviated the Dunkin’ way—but only slightly. Pastry chef Stephanie MacGlaughlin, who created 400 varieties of cupcakes during her three-year stint at Red Velvet, whips up classics like glazed and Boston cream alongside more whimsical flavors such as crème brûlée, passionfruit glaze, chili-spiked Mexican chocolate, and peanut butter and bacon. The last satisfies both a sweet and salty tooth, though more strictly savory doughnuts are in the works for mealtime—think pizza or grilled cheese flavors and a riff on the Monte Cristo sandwich stuffed with Swiss cheese and ham beneath a dusting of powdered sugar. 

A liquor license may be in the works later—doughnut hole “shots” filled with boozy jam, anyone?—though for now you can dunk the light yeast rings in Swing’s coffee or, better yet, cold cereal milk. MacGlaughlin infuses milk with the flavors of childhood favorites Fruit Loops, Corn Flakes, and Cocoa Puffs, all of which are served by the glass. You can also get a dairy fix by topping your newfangled doughnut with an old favorite: TangySweet-style fro-yo.

The shop is slated for a soft opening on Friday, February 1, from 4 to 8 PM , and will keep limited hours until the grand opening the following week, Friday, February 8, when it’ll be open 8 to 8. Check back with us for specials closer to the debut, as well as delivery hours. 

Cool Disco Donuts. 2029 P St., NW. Regular hours (after the grand opening): Tuesday through Sunday, 8 AM to 8 PM. 

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.