Village Survivors

By arthur Z. schwartz

Sweet Relief for the Glazed & Confused:
Donut Pub to Resume its 24/7 Presence

By Scott Stiffler, Editor of Chelsea Community News

An exterior view of The Donut Pub, whose signage hints at its nighttime neon nature. Photo by Scott Stiffler, courtesy of Chelsea Community News.

Finally, the sprinkling of good news we’ve been waiting for. After closing in October of 2022 due to danger posed by the partial collapse of a basement wall, the sugar sanctuary that stood near the corner of 14th and Seventh for almost six decades is about to come full circle. Granted, it’s a circle with a rather large hole in the middle—but if past behavior is any indication, nobody will mind.

The store’s nearly nine-month shuttering was the first time The Donut Pub ceased operations since opening for business on a blustery December morning in 1964. The weather outside may have chilled the bones, but locals soon warmed to the wall stacked with variations of the reasonably priced, generously portioned namesake product. Meatpacking District shift workers accounted for a robust grab-and-go crowd, while the dozen-plus stools facing a marble top counter running the length of the shop’s left side encouraged lingering. Add to that a staff whose swift delivery of comfort food sent their likability factor skyward and the narrow, no-frills place soon took on a cozy, communal vibe not unlike that of an English pub–albeit one where the drink of choice was a tall cup of piping hot, dipping-friendly coffee.

Occasional customers soon became loyal regulars and the menu expanded to fit the rhythms of a 24/7 cycle, adding breakfast items, cookies, sandwiches, bagels and, over time, paninis, croissant donuts and high-concept versions of their signature hand-cut, made-on-site donuts. All products are peanut and tree nut-free, according to The Donut Pub’s website, which notes the place “has come to represent New York City at its very best, brightest, and most delicious.”

Said with much pride and little hubris, that statement only serves to amp up the great expectations for The Donut Pub’s impending return to 203 West 14th Street. Past deeds bode well for the delicious factor—although we’ve a quibble with the website’s reference to its flagship store as the “West Village” location. The small but mighty storefront is on the north side of West 14th, clearly distinguishing itself as property of Chelsea. (Village residents can take solace knowing The Donut Pub’s only other Manhattan location happens to be on Astor Place at 740 Broadway.)

We’ll soon take up the “pride of ownership” matter with The Donut Pub’s owner, Brooklyn-born Buzzy Geduld. Reached by phone on July 20, Geduld promised Chelsea Community News a dishy interview when the West 14th Street location has a rock solid opening date. Eagerly awaiting ConEd’s restoration of services, Geduld went into cautionary “under promise and over deliver” mode, in his naming late August as an open-for-business time frame.

Meantime, Geduld says a few improvements to the space have already been made—new flooring and an upgrade for the front window display case. Same as it ever was, he assures, will be the recipes, ingredients and whatever mojo they use to make every item on the menu so very good. (Not a donut person? Try their transcendently delicious take on the classic bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.) Best of all, the owner says, The Donut Pub will once again be a 24-hour operation. That’s especially good news for the night shift workers, after hours bar crawlers and other assorted night owls still feeling the loss of the late, great, Good Stuff Diner on the next block to the east. All the more reason to anticipate the day when The Donut Pub returns to reclaim its role as a shining beacon of sweets—and an all-hours source of bacon, be it on a donut, in a sandwich or simply on the side.

New Kids on the Block

Pranakhon Thai Restaurant
88 University Place

THAI IS COMING BACK TO THE VILLAGE: A tasty Thai meal at Pranakhon. Photo by Arthur Schwartz.

We once had a plethora of Thai restaurants in the Village. Before and after the Pandemic hit we got whittled down to a small number. But Thai is coming back. Pranakhon, on the west side of University, between 11th and 12th opened in December. Phra Nakhon is the original name of the capital city of Thailand—the name was changed to Bangkok in 1971. There’s a Disney-like quality to the interior of Pranakhon, with a massive two-story interior. It feels as though the owners were trying to re-create an open-air spot in Bangkok, and they do an all right job—most of the food is a step up from your favorite takeout place. The menu, like the space, is huge. You’ll find pretty much any Thai dish you’d want here, from pad thai and green curry to mussel omelets and crab fried rice. A few regular dishes, like the meltingly tender and rich Short Rib Mussaman, and Pad Pong Karee (prawn, squid, egg, curry powder, onion, scallion, Asian celery, red long hot pepper, evaporated milk) stand out. We had a special, Sliced Duck Mussaman, which was astounding, and Curry Pancakes (Roti flat bread stuffed with minced chicken, onion, scallion, egg, curry powder, sweet cucumber relish), and a whole grilled Branzino. If inside is too loud you can enjoy sitting outside (University is a street where outdoor sheds are tasteful and unobtrusive).

Wegmans (coming soon)

The new Wegmans store takes over the space of the Astor Place K-Mart, which closed in July 2021. Photo courtesy of Wegmans.

We really do have a lack of reasonably priced grocery stores in Greenwich Village. Most people looking for reasonable prices go to Trader Joe’s on 6th and 21st or on 14th and 3rd. They are about to be joined by Wegmans, on 8th Street at 4th Avenue. (The site last operated as a K-Mart, and before that it was a Wanamaker Department Store.) Wegmans is a national chain, but only has one store in NYC. It is known, like Trader Joe’s, for its own branded products, which sell for lower prices than name brands, and for “Food You Feel Good About,” food without artificial color, flavors, and additives, which are coded with colors throughout the store. A broad array of hot and cold prepared foods will headline the upcoming store, which also will house the Sushi Bar and Champagne-Oyster Bar at Astor Place restaurant, which will open next year.