A half dozen donuts, ordered and paid online for same-day pick-up
Another day, another conundrum. We know that quite a few local covid-19 outbreaks have been traced to restaurants, including no fewer than a dozen clusters in the past month. On the other hand: donuts.
6171 Mission Gorge Road, San Diego
Since the pandemic started, I’ve continued to try out and write about every iteration of socially distanced restaurant service as public policy has allowed it: from outdoor dining to glass partitions, plastic sheets, and even plywood boards between tables. I’m still here to say that the majority of restaurants I’ve visited have done well to make me feel safe: masked servers, sanitized credit cards, and bottles of the stuff posted by entrances and restrooms.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that, as the number of covid-19 cases have risen in San Diego, so has my anxiety. Wearing a mask when I leave the house mitigates the risk, but it doubles as a reminder: every successive restaurant visit feels like an escalating round of Russian roulette. Except the revolver is pointed at my whole household.
Just a hole-in-the-wall donut shop in Grantville
That’s a big reason that, despite the remarkable proliferation of outdoor dining opportunities we’ve seen this July, I’ve been sticking to take-out, to curbside pickup, and to contactless delivery. Skipping any number of alluring al fresco dining opportunities hasn’t reduced my risk to zero, but I’ve continued to eat well enough without having to look over my shoulder to worry about the possibility some anti-mask yahoo might be breathing down my neck.
That was my fear when I woke up with a donut craving. Historically, buying donuts is browsing activity, one where there are any number of other customers peering into the same glass case. Most donut shops offer little by way of outdoor space: they’re small counter shops that can fill up quickly, often with impatient people (because most of us are impatient).
The name "Donut Panic" takes on added meaning during a pandemic.
Fortunately, I found a local donut shop offering an alternative. Donut Panic is a hole in the wall in the Grantville area of Mission Valley. Owing to an assortment of egg- and dairy-free donuts, it’s probably best known to vegans, but it offers the style of traditional donuts I craved. And, it offers same-day online donut orders and payment.
I point out same day because a couple of the usual suspect donut shops offering web orders ask you to pre-order the night before. Donut Panic had my selection of donuts ready within 25 minutes, morning of, and probably would have had them sooner if I hadn’t tacked on a couple of better-than-they-looked breakfast sandwiches.
I merely had to click on my choice of twists, sprinkles, and bars, pay via credit card, and drive over. I found a door propped open, a shop free of other customers, and a couple bags of food waiting for me. Donut Panic’s masked proprietor passed them to me and I was on my way.
I used to prefer phone orders for take-out, but given our new reality, restaurants that embrace some sort of online functionality are starting to look better and better. If a tiny, independent shop like Donut Panic can make it work, I have to believe more sophisticated operations can make it happen.