Time to make the... (Source: NYTimes.com)

Time to make the… (Source: NYTimes.com)

So is it Shaikh’s Place or Donut Shoppe? I’ve referred to it interchangeably for years, always corrected by someone who is adamant about one or the other. Even Yelp hedges its bets.

While the New York Times is hardly the arbiter of anything Southern Brooklyn, it’s going with Shaikh’s Place.

The 24-hour donut and coffee shop at 1503 Avenue U, known for out-of-this-world, light, airy donuts (who needs the extra letters?) and a somewhat gritty storefront, got the Sunday Times treatment over the weekend, earning high praise from customers and veteran food writer Rachel Wharton.

Wharton covers the background of the place and its curious owner, a former electrical engineering student who fell in love with the rounded, holed confection.

The Shaikh of the place is Shaikh Kalam, 53, a Calcutta native who bought the shop (also 53) from its original owner, Carlo Radicella, in 1994, after Mr. Radicella had a stroke.

Mr. Kalam arrived from India in 1981 to study electrical engineering, but doughnuts interfered. He found a job at the place in 1983, when it was still known as the Donut Shoppe, “and I stayed.”

Many agree that when Mr. Kalam took over as head baker for Mr. Radicella in the 1980s, doughnut magic was made.

Mr. Kalam tried to make the sweets lighter and less greasy, tinkering with the temperature of the frying oil and the time he let the dough rise. “There’s a lot of little knickknack to it,” he mused. He said, however, that the most important step was simply that he makes 150 dozen fresh every day, beginning at 5 a.m.

Apparently, everyone the Times spoke to agrees that Kalam does a better job with the donuts than the original owner. I can’t say – I’ve only been eating from Shaikh’s for the past seven or so years. And it’s ruined me for any of the Dunkin’ crap.

As for the old signage and the interior, which the Times says hasn’t been renovated for more than half a century, Kalam is unconcerned.

“I might paint,” said Mr. Kalam, who apparently does not worry much about décor. “Once they come in, I don’t lose customers — they’re keepers.”

I get that. Genius needs no frills.

Read the full write-up.

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  • RFernandez

    There goes the Times again, just catching up. We did a piece on Shaikh’s Place a long long time ago.

    http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2012/01/donut-shoppe-shaikhs-place-glazed-doughnut-the-bite/

  • anon

    Too bad he doesn’t sweep away all the garbage in front of his shop. It is filthy.

  • Kriston Lewis

    My roommate swears by those donuts, and I must confess, I have yet to try any. I’m gonna trust my employer on this one and finally give it a go.

  • Perceptions

    How did Di Fara’s get so popular? Oh yeah, some mainstream yuppie/hipster publication did a spotlight on them. Now with this NY Time’s spotlight, is the formerly bland suburban and now transplanted and cultured crowd going to make their way to this part of town to sample the Donut Shoppe’s offerings?

    • just saying

      I hope so maybe they can turn this run down neighborhood around !

      • joe

        lol you make it sound like the bay is some neglected ghetto. Its an ethnic neighborhood not “:run-down”. I rather have it the way it is now instead of being overrun with hipsters

        • dame

          Neglected absolutely, ghetto no. Run down yes. Open your eyes take a look around.

          • joe

            if you want to see what run down really looks like, drive through east new york, brooklyn and hollis, Queens and you can see what a real run down neighborhood looks like

          • joetoyou

            That is the ghetto

          • Vodka

            I agree with just saying…..Sheepshead Bay is a bit run down where as they don’t fix it up nice like the slope or the heights, nobody said anything about it be a ghetto neighborhood but you Joe, so lets not take it there.

          • joe

            o I just read the statement in a different context then. When I think of run down I think of abandoned buildings, graffiti everywhere, broken windows..etc. I mean is sheepshead bay like Park Slope or Brooklyn Heights? Of course not. But I like a little litter and not having everything being super clean and nice looking. That’s what makes NYC unique and has it stand out. I like the litter and the grittiness feel NYC has

  • Matthew Schless

    The corner of Avenue U and East 15th Street is historic doughnut territory because the 61st Precinct was once located there.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      But the cops never took all the seats there. They’d do take out.

      My only problem with the Donut Shoppe is that it can’t fit more people.

    • Kriston Lewis

      In the Duane Reade building?

      • Matthew Schless

        Yes. Exact same location, but in an older, multi-story building.

  • Steven

    I go there sometimes. Place is not very clean, hasn’t been painted in 53 yrs, but the doughnuts are good.

  • subwaystinker

    Badly written TIMES story that seemed to leave out the address of the shop. If I missed that important fact, let me know.

    • guest

      Its better they leave out the address. You will have an influx of hipsters if they put it in. Hipsters love subway rides into “uncharted territory” to teach us native New Yorkers how to live.

      • Kriston Lewis

        You know they can just Google it if they wanted to, right?