Talwinder Dhaliwal the owner of Dude Donut City. (Jake Thomas/Salem Reporter)

Even when the economy’s in free fall and there’s no end in sight to a global pandemic, you can count on people’s appetite for fried dough and sugar.

Dude Donut City, located at 3997 Carson Dr. S.E., opened its doors last week during an unprecedented economic downturn. But Talwinder Dhaliwal, the store’s owner, said that it’s been a struggle to keep shelves stocked as customers file in at all hours seeking fritters, Boston Creams, Dutch Crumb and other fried pastries.

“I cannot make enough donuts,” said Dhaliwal, wearing a face mask, gloves, a stained apron and glasses dusted with flour. “You see that shelf is empty again. So all night I make them but that’s all gone.”

Dhaliwal currently owns the Stop N Save next door to Dude Donut City. Previously he worked in his brother-in-law’s donut shop in San Jose where he first learned how to make the fried treats. He figured that a donut shop would pair nicely with the convenience store and made plans to open it months ago when the coronavirus was a distant concern.

He originally planned to open the donut shop in March but delayed the opening because of the coronavirus pandemic. Even as the virus struck, Dhaliwal said he kept hearing, “Hey, when you open? When you open?”

Now, Dhaliwal is working nearly around the clock to keep his shelves stocked. He said he originally started opening at 5 a.m., but customers started showing up as early as 4 a.m. He changed the opening to 4:30 a.m. and it’s now open 24-7 with the help of six employees.

He said that he has nearly 52 types of donuts and that apple and blueberry fritters have been popular. Recently, he added donuts made from potato flour.

On a weekday, a constant stream of people was present in the shop waiting in line (keeping their distance from each other) to order or exiting with boxes full of donuts. Behind the counter was the sound of a busy kitchen and donuts frying. All the chairs were stacked on the tables and pushed to the side for now because the store is only offering takeout service.

Dhaliwal said he’s been grateful for the community support even during the pandemic and has found time to donate donuts to the hospital. 

When asked how many donuts he sells a day, Dhaliwal paused before estimating 200 dozen a day.

“I don’t know,” he said. “This is too much.”

Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.

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