Diversity with Donuts

New donut shop closes culinary gap in Kalispell and expands food scene

By Maggie Dresser
Leanna Carlson and Frank Hanes owners of The Spot donuts in Kalispell on Dec. 16, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Before Frank Hanes and Leanna Carlson moved to the Flathead this fall, they noticed there were few donut shops in the area.

As veterans in the food service industry, working in fine dining in New York City and San Francisco throughout their careers, they planned to open some type of food venue in the valley. But before they decided which venture to pursue, they wanted to identify the culinary gaps in the Flathead.

About a month after moving from Vermont, Hanes and Carlson opened a donut drive thru called The Spot just east of Kalispell’s Woodland Park.

“We were researching what we wanted to do when we got here and there were no donut shops in town,” Hanes said. “There was just Krispy Kreme and the grocery store, so we said ‘Alright, we found our calling.’”

Although Hanes has spent his career in fine dining, working as a sous-chef and managing several restaurants, he didn’t have much training in the donut department.

But Hanes has been busy learning the dough, making dozens of donut batches before opening and developing his dough recipe over the last four months.

“Every day I’m tweaking it and learning more about my dough,” Hanes said.

Since Hanes has been perfecting his dough recipe, he’s also been experimenting with flavors and diversifying the menu. Over Thanksgiving, he wanted to mimic a pecan pie, so he created a Spotted Bear Spirits whiskey glaze and added a creamy, chewy filling to transform a traditional holiday treat into a donut.

After working with a chef from New Zealand in New York City, he developed an appetite for pavlova, a meringue-based dessert with berries and whipped cream. So he made a pavlova donut.

Hanes and Carlson plan to switch up with menu every month and change the recipes while still maintaining some of their popular donuts.

“I wanted to get a little more creative and have a little fun for myself,” Hanes said. “Once you get stagnant, you get bored.”

The Spot is also collaborating with Kalispell Brewing Company and Spotted Bear to create a “drunken donut,” which uses whiskey and has a stout filling. There’s also a promotional donut give-away at the brewery every Sunday.

Hanes and Carlson plan to continue sourcing ingredients locally for their recipes, and they plan to work with Wicked Good Farm in the spring to use fresh produce. In addition to donuts, biscuits are also on The Spot’s menu with breakfast sandwiches planned for 2021 using Redneck Sausage.

“We really just want to elevate the food scene here by doing things that aren’t here,” Carlson said. “We’re hoping to expand the food horizon.”

Before Hanes and Carlson found the former Pizza Hut drive thru on Woodland Park Drive, they originally planned to only operate a food truck. But since the takeout window was available when they were still in the planning stages, they decided to change their entire business idea. With the drive thru, they were able to open right away instead of waiting until the spring when their truck will be operational.

Meanwhile, Hanes is continuing to perfect recipes from scratch while going through 10 pounds of sugar and 30 pounds of flour a day.

“We ate a lot of donuts before we opened,” Hanes said. “I probably made close to 50 batches before I was happy with the recipe and we’re still tweaking it day to day and learning the dough.”

For more information, visit www.thespotmt.com.

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