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Montreal's homemade doughnut shops sweetening the city's foodscape

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Homemade doughnut shops seem to be gaining in popularity, and there's no sign of stopping at some of Montreal's most in-demand spots.

Bernie Beigne has been satisfying the sweet tooth of Montrealers since its opening in 2021.

"We've just constantly been growing. One of our biggest challenges here is managing the growth," said co-owner Dean Giannarakis.

Though flavours like matcha white chocolate or grape Hubba Bubba are more of the cutting-edge variety, the Mile-End shop's co-owner said they owe their success to the old-school approach.

"It's a small family business," he said. "Everyone is somehow related or connected from many years ago."

The window-facing glazing station is also a nod to old-fashioned bakeries, which is a nostalgic experience for some.

"Doughnuts, really homemade doughnuts, really existed when I was a kid in Montreal," said food critic Lesley Chesterman. "And then I saw all those homemade doughnut places disappear when the chains took over."

Chesterman added that the loss of these shops left Montrealers craving the baked goods.

In Montreal's NDG neighbourhood, restaurateur Terry Axiotis noticed a void in the market and decided to fill it.

"I think people still like that feeling of seeing people make a fresh donut in-house, all the time from scratch," said the Homer's Donuts owner. "So because you're doing it from scratch, I think people feel like, you know what, it's worth it."

He said good dough is the key to success, in his opinion.

"It's really good dough," said NDG resident Dale Charles. "It's moist."

Charles was hooked from her very first visit when Homer's Donuts opened at the end of March.

Line-ups are now a daily occurance at both shops, and some customers will travel to get a dozen.

"Honestly, it's just all the flavours that are available," said Stephanie Couillard, a Laurentians resident. "Especially for our kids. They love all the colourful ones."

Chesterman now considers homemade doughnuts a staple in the city.

"Maybe right now it's a little trendy with these stores, but it's not like things, you know, even something like tacos,". he said. "Is tacos a trend? No, because if they're good, they're good and they'll always be there." 

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