The smell of freshly-baked donuts is one not easily forgotten, especially as it awakens an indomitable urge to placate a sudden-onset sweet tooth.
It is difficult not to swoon over the sugary goodness of the classic treat. But not all donuts are made the same — and that goes beyond the baking process.
One Kentucky family seems to have mastered the art of the confectionery delight. The Alguera family opened their first donut shop, named for family patriarch Francisco Alguera, in Georgetown a decade ago.
That Frank’s Donuts did so well, the family went on to establish two more area shops — including one in Winchester.
The Alguera family opened the first local Frank’s Donuts on Bypass Road. The shop has since relocated to busy Lexington Avenue, giving Winchester residents a place to grab something warm and sweet to fill their bellies on weekdays or a reason to get out of bed early on Saturday morning.
Frank’s is family-owned and operated, with Alguera’s sons, Frank Jr. and Alex, helping manage the day-to-day operations.
Alguera wasn’t always a baker. He emigrated to America from Honduras and noticed a stark difference in the bread, Frank Jr. said. Unable to find a bread that compared to what he found at home, Alguera eventually began working in a bakery, where he learned the trade, enough that he has been able to branch out and successfully operate three donut shops in central Kentucky.
It’s a big job, especially with an influx of customers during the busy morning hours. The local store opens at 4:30 a.m.
Frank Jr., 24, said there is usually only a rotation of about seven employees through the week, with two more added to the mix on weekends to fill extra orders.
Located in a former Wendy’s restaurant, there is nothing particularly fancy about Frank’s, because there doesn’t have to be. The donuts speak for themselves, flying off the trays almost faster than the bakers can replace them.
There is something for everyone, from soft glazed varieties and warm apple fritters to extra-large muffins. The offerings are not only large and filling, but they won’t break the bank. You can get a dozen for about $7.
The best-seller is the traditional and sweet glazed, although the Long John and Bismark are close behind, Frank said. Customers can grab a single sweet treat for themselves or a dozen to take home to the family or office — but it is best to do it as early as possible and expect a bit of a wait, especially on the weekends.
“Sometimes we have lines out the door, and it’s good to see that,” Frank said. “It means we’re doing something right.”
Despite the potential wait, Frank’s has become a regional destination with customers traveling from towns away for the chance at a box of the fresh, warm confections.
While the new location offers the convenience of a drive-through, the real experience is had inside. Customers with a few extra minutes on their hands would benefit from a trip inside where they can set eyes on the various menu options.
The dining area offers a wide view of Lexington Avenue’s hustle and bustle via the large bay windows. A bit of the building’s past life as a fast-food joint is evident in those tell-tale windows, but the rest of the shop is all Frank’s.
Inside the long display case at the counter, several trays hold the day’s varieties — often including Frank’s personal favorites, the maple-glazed donut and strawberry-cream cheese croissant.
Sticking mostly to old favorites — classics like the jelly donut and bear claw — is a sure-fire way to keep customers happy, so there aren’t many big changes to the menu, Frank said. However, new varieties are known to pop up occasionally.
Chef David Bishop of Bread Crumbs Bakeries Across America reviewed Frank’s Donuts in 2013 and was impressed by the variety of options on display, as well as the sheer amount of customers who were queuing up.
“I wanna tell you folks, wow, those are good donuts!” Bishop said. “Nothing fancy that you’ve never seen before, but what they do, they do right. We stopped in at 8 a.m. on a Friday and that place was buzzing.”
Bishop isn’t the only one raving about the quality of Frank’s fresh pastries, just take a look at the bakery’s online customer reviews.
Yelp user Josh is among several satisfied customers who took the time to write a review.
“You cannot mention Winchester without thinking about Frank’s,” he wrote. “…You have not lived until you bite into a fresh, hot Frank’s donut. If they’re warm, it’s like angels frolicking on your tongue. If they’re cold, they’re still exceptional. Passing through Winchester and searching for a fast breakfast? This place is three minutes off the interstate and will imprint on your mind for the rest of your life. Grab a sackful of these beauties, a hot coffee, and you will want to take on the world.”
With so many happy customers, it is easy to imagine managing such a thriving business could be a lot for a 24-year-old to handle, even with family members around to help balance the workload. But for Frank Jr., it comes down to being able to build a career with the people he loves.
“Sometimes it’s too much, but at the end of the day, I love being able to wake up and work with my family,” he said. “Not everything runs smoothly, of course, but it’s still fun.”
Frank said he hopes to become a doctor, but he won’t be leaving the family business forever, he said. The Algueras will always be able to count on him when he is needed.
“Even if I do become a doctor or have some other career path, I’ll always have my roots here, and I’ll always help out.” §