Astoria has locally made doughnuts again.
Samuel Bruhn recently opened Half Pint Donuts in the food cart pod on 11th and Duane streets, turning out small batches of miniature cake doughnuts.
Half Pint is the first doughnut stop in Astoria since Home Bakery closed earlier this year and Lindstrom’s Danish Maid closed in 2017. The cart joins an ever-expanding menu of food options, including sushi, ramen, tacos, bowls, soul food, sandwiches, waffles and pizza.
Bruhn’s food service background spans from working galleys in the Navy to the back of the house at Baked Alaska. He works at Sweet Relief when not running the cart.
“It was something I thought that I could be tenacious enough with, and honestly I wanted to take on a new challenge,” he said. “Starting your own business seems like the most challenging.”
Bruhn makes his cake doughnuts in creative daily small batches like blackberry and banana nut. His automatic doughnut maker pumps out small rings of dough from a hopper into a hot oil bath. Paddles push the dough along until they are shoveled out the other side, freshly fried.
His doughnuts use a baking soda base that rises as they run through the oil bath, as opposed to yeast doughnuts needing hours in the oven, which he would like to one day add.
Doughnut shops are a notoriously fickle business with low profit margins. Half Pint also serves coffee, burgers and other lunch and dinner items. Part of the name comes from Bruhn’s plans to one day add beer and wine.
Bruhn has received help from his father, Michael Bruhn, who owns the lot. The pod is likely done growing unless another cart leaves, Michael Bruhn said, but he hopes to add covered seating, live music and alcohol through his son’s cart to attract more visitors.
“I’ve got to go with the reality of it,” Michael Bruhn said. “People want that with their lunch.”