Frank Hanes and Leanna Carlson knew that their new specialty donut shop, The Spot in Kalispell, was a hit last winter when the line for their drive-thru window stretched through the parking lot and into nearby Woodland Park Drive. The donut purveyor had opened in November, but it wasn’t until a story in the local paper a few weeks later that the crowds really started showing up. Up until that point, Hanes and Carlson had been able to handle operations by themselves, but clearly that was about to end.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘We’re going to need to get some employees,’” Hanes recalled.
Some nine months later, as it approaches its first anniversary, The Spot now has four employees alongside Hanes and Carlson and is building a dedicated following of customers who come back every month to try their newest flavors. While some people might be satisfied with an old-fashioned glazed (and The Spot can get you that), Hanes loves to push himself and aims to have five new flavors every month. That means he’s come up with at least 50 different flavors and counting.
Hanes grew up in Vermont and Carlson is from California. The couple met in San Francisco where they worked in the culinary scene: Hanes in the kitchen and Carlson in administration and management. Last year, they decided to try something different and move to Montana to open up some sort of restaurant, although they weren’t sure what exactly. Before moving, they researched what the area had and lacked. After a while they settled on donuts. Pastries weren’t exactly part of Hanes’ culinary repertoire, but he was excited for the challenge.
“We picked donuts because it seemed like a gap in the market and donuts just sort of sell themselves,” he said.
In late 2020, they set up shop in Kalispell, and nearly a year later, the process of making the donuts is about the same (although now they have a few more people helping). Hanes usually shows up at 3 a.m. to start prepping the kitchen. At 4 a.m. the first employees roll in and begin rolling out dough. At 5 a.m. comes donut frying, followed at 6 a.m. by frosting, glazing and decorating. And at 7 a.m. the first cars roll up to the drive-thru window. On weekdays, they make about 400 donuts, a figure that doubles on weekends.
Hanes said he is constantly thinking of new flavors to try, although he’s careful not to get too crazy and only creates donuts with flavor profiles that make sense. One month that meant a triple berry donut with a raspberry glaze, strawberry crumble and blueberry drizzle; a peach pie donut with whiskey glaze, peach filling and topped with a puff pastry; a lemon huckleberry donut with huckleberry glaze, preserved lemon and buttercream; and an almond maple donut with maple glaze, almond puree and almonds. Hanes said he gets ideas nearly everywhere. For example, the almond maple donut represents where he and Carlson come from (maple for Vermont and almonds for central California).
In recent months, they have also added donut holes and breakfast sandwiches with homemade biscuits: “We want something for savory types, too,” Hanes said. As for the future, Hanes and Carlson said it’s too early to know for sure where The Spot will go, but it’s possible they will expand and explore other restaurant ideas as well. The only thing for sure is that The Spot will continue to be the place to go for locally made donuts.
Description: The Spot offers six different donuts every month, including five never-before-done flavors and a vanilla bean glaze called the OG
Location: 51 Woodland Park Drive