So let me start off by saying that it's easy for me to say that I love almost everyone that I come across in Asbury Park... But I really love the gang over at Purple Glaze Donuts. The choice to invade their kitchen for a morning was somewhat an easy one to make because they are just so much fun and so sweet anytime I see them, either at the shop or in the City. However, I think what surprised me the most was that I wasn't the only one who share these sentiments over Asbury Park's official donut revolutionaries, whom I will call Donuteers.
Let me rewind to Purple Glaze's soft opening last Spring. At the time, I was still trying to balance being a new mom and leaving the house (even for just a couple blocks) was some sort of dizzied, half-organized chaos. My daughter, all of six months old, was very much this little being that needed so much more than I did to leave the house. My husband was the one who had told me about their soft opening and while tied up at work, suggested that I grab a couple to bring home. Part dawdle, part not wanting to interrupt sacred and scarce nap time, it was sometime way after lunch that we finally had made it out....
Diaper bag, stroller, blanket, check, check, check; banging my knee on the car door, uh-huh. I got this. I had parked my car on the corner of Grand but could already smell the scent of baked goods in the air. After loading my little into the stroller and setting myself up for a whole giant block's stroll, we arrived at an almost cleaned-out Purple Glaze. The line was what I assume that every new business wants: out the door. We waited for our turn patiently when I had noted that my chaos was probably nothing to that of what they must have been feeling that day.
Left with two choices as my toll for being so late, we grabbed one Orange Creamsicle and one Peanut Butter and Jelly, turned a tight corner and off we go! Mission Complete! We did it! We got donuts! ...Until a familiar but infamous springtime, Asbury wind took my box, splattering it across the sidewalk and onto Summerfield. (Enter the "Price is Right" losing horn here.)
Fast forward to a year later and I see Jacki Sharpe taking a break in the sunshine as I walk up to the now famous donut shop. What I want you to understand about Jacki, is that in my mind, she is Asbury Park's very own Glinda the Good Witch. Complete with sparkling and warm blonde hair, Jacki leaves a trail of sweetness everywhere she goes. Literally. Having been to many of Asbury Park's events over the last year, Jacki is always on hand to help out. When I had asked for some donuts for my Halloween Funraiser last year, she didn't even blink. Jacki sees it as a way to give back to the community and as someone who is always trying to dig up new ways to do so, having someone like Jacki in your corner is a godsend.
Upon entering Purple Glaze, you are greeted with warm smiles from the team, some sort of rock and roll and an overwhelming selection of confections. "What kind of donuts do you have?" asks a new patron and despite probably having not a single definitive answer other than "Awesome," Wes hands over a menu and directs him to the specials board. Wes, Jacki's son, is the mastermind behind the "Metal Donut of the Week." Decked out in an Old Glory Tattoo's Greetings from Asbury Park t-shirt, he waves me on back to cross the line... To where the magic happens.
Jacki is excited to take out a handcrafted candy piece for the donut we'd put together that morning. "It's white chocolate and chocolate mixed with these little fish sprinkles I bought for The Mermaid donut." Breaking off a piece, Wes is excited for all of us to try it. While they discuss the consistency, I eyeball the kitchen and it's machinery. It strikes me that for the amount of donuts that get processed each day, they really have their space utilized and nailed down to a perfect science.
I ask Jacki how she got started and she confesses that she had thought she had had some sort of, perhaps dare I say "girlie" pastry shop but that it was Wes and his friends who were on the donut trend. She had talked about going to school and wanting to streamline her process before jumping into the business, taking jobs within the industry to understand how to make it all gel. And with each of their stories, from baking and making donuts every single day at home, honing in on their crafts, you get a sense of passion for their product; in my opinion, the key ingredient to having a not only successful but treasured business. She credits Wes for pushing the donut idea but as a collaborative effort come to life, Asbury Park is graced with a donut shop like no other.
"My old manager had told me to 'let it grow; let it grow organically. You'll set up shop and you'll change things around but you'll find what works for you and what doesn't. Just let it grow.'" And grown it has as you can't scroll through any social media without seeing at least one of the famed and sought after creations. Purple Glaze also supports a lot of local businesses as well, using B2 Creative for the logo design, brewing Asbury Park Roastery coffee, supplying The ShowRoom Cinema with weekend donut concessions and stocking Holly Jolly Jams just to name a few.
Notably missing was another famous donuteer, Dan, who had unfortunately thrown his back out but didn't stop patrons from asking for him. However, I got a chance to chat with Alexa, one of the newest members of the team, who is responsible for many of the dog treats that Purple Glaze offers their customer's companions. Alexa, often mistaken for being apart of the Sharpe family, says that she doesn't mind because to her they are quite like family. Alexa is easy-going but dutiful and explains that she knew right away she wanted to be apart of the Purple Glaze experience. "I clicked well with everyone and having visited other shops on the Shore, I just knew that this is where I wanted to be." Wes is quick to show off her current stock of dog treats, noting that they won't make it through the weekend. "People really love our donuts and some would give to their dogs but we thought, why not serve something for them too?"
Wes takes a break in between customers and I see that it's Jacki's sly chance to change up the musical selection. Very quietly but the matter of factly, the shop goes from Rage Against the Machine to the Rolling Stones. "Beast of Burden" enters the airwaves and although still rock and roll, the vibe changes just a little. Johnny, a regular and "The Server of the Century," makes a visit and settles in like it's apart of his routine. He and Wes talk shop a bit, swap some war stories of past lives working in other establishments, as Johnny carefully critiques today's selection: the Sub-lime donut. You can tell that this is something he does often and is welcomed by Wes who is always on the hunt for a new combination to test and someone's thumbs up of approval. What's really prevalent here is that everyone who walks through the door is just as happy to see the team as the team is to see them. You get a sense of familiarity whether you are neighbors, locals or visiting for the first time; a feeling that you've stumbled upon a really special small business.
As my morning comes to a close with the gang, Jacki takes offs (once again in my head, in a sugary, sparkling vanilla scented bubble) to run errands while Wes and Alexa hold down the fort, my husband and daughter come in. Sometimes it's weird for me to see her walking and talking, even if it had only been a couple hours since I saw her last. Jacki notes how tall she got and the donuteers are quick to decorate her with a couple stickers. Although as we may have tried, we couldn't leave without a grabbing at least one donut and possibly some churros.
Purple Glaze is open every day but Tuesday from 7:30AM until 2:00PM. Donuts, churros and dog treats, there is something for everyone, every flavor, and flare on the menu. Visit them on the web...