It's always tough when a favorite haunt gives up the ghost.
And so it was tough on coffee lovers, live music fans and locals looking for a cool place to hang out when the Barrington Coffee Shop and Musicafe closed shop in 2015.
A cake shop took its place for a time, but recently the doors opened on not just a new idea, but a revolution.
Make that a Donut Revolution.
Owner and head doughnut maker Tiffany Pesyna has created a welcoming space on her busy corner of Clements Bridge Road.
The bright and spacious shop, which opened Sept. 15, is a cheery place to start your day, with window seating, café tables, lively chalk art and orange accents.
There is fresh coffee at a very glam coffee station, brewed from Crescent Moon coffee roastery in Mullica Hill. "I was a customer before I became a vendor," Pesyna told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill (http://on.cpsj.com/2xot3C1). She lived in Pitman and Woodstown before moving to Swedesboro.
But the center attraction is doughnuts — lots and lots of doughnuts.
Pesyna was a food service director for one residential and three retail locations for Aramark at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. She has worked in food service since the age of 16, most of those years in management.
"I did a lot of high-end dining and catering in my past," she says, as well as working in senior food services.
"Baking has always been a hobby of mine," she says of her road to opening her own doughnut shop. "I come from a family where you bake to show your love. And my husband (Matthew) and I built our own doughnut wedding cake before it was a thing."
She credits Matthew, as well as both sides of their family, with supporting her vision.
"This process was a yearlong process to get us here and open, and we could not have done any of that without them. My husband said your dream sounds like a good dream to follow. How lucky am I? Not many husbands would say I'll keep working a normal job, and you go follow your dream."
And that dream is a sweet one.
"Doughnuts have always had my heart, and my kids and I go around looking for good ones," she says of Abigail, 13; Jonathan, 11, and Lily, 8 years old. "I thought, why not take something I love and invest in something that is mine, and spend more time with my family? And what is more fun than doughnuts?"
Indeed, doughnuts seem to be having a long moment, sort of nudging cupcakes a bit to the side.
The doughnuts at Donut Revolution all start with the same base, a fresh cake doughnut with a touch of cinnamon. It is the toppings and drizzles where the Donut Revolution staff gets to have fun and get creative.
"We have about 10 dips that you can choose from and for toppings, there are about 12 or 14," she says. "We do seasonal flavors, so right now it's Campfire S'mores, and soon we'll be bringing in the pumpkin.
While the customer can create their own taste combos, the doughnut team has 14 favorites to suggest — everything from the most popular (Peanut Butter Cup, made with chocolate dip, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup crumbles and chocolate drizzle) to the truly adventurous (Jersey Devil, featuring a Sriracha-Chocolate dip, bacon and caramel drizzle).
Plenty of kids — and more than a few adults — may opt for the nostalgia of Saturday Morning Cartoons, a colorful doughnut made with vanilla dip, strawberry drizzle and Fruity Pebbles cereal. The Drunken Sailor boasts spiced rum dip, bacon and salted caramel drizzle.
"The Saturday Morning Cartoon is popular with grown men, for some reason," says Pesyna, and an Apple Pie doughnut is also a big hit right now.
Pesyna is grateful to be part of a resurgence of new business in Barrington. A new comic book store has opened up right next door, and other new businesses, including a hair salon, are coming soon, she says.
The doughnut shop originally was conceived for Pitman, but there were issues with a prospective building that caused her to cast a wider net to set up shop.
"I wanted a good community around me," she says. "We were targeting a small town with a supportive feel, with commerce tucked in a little corner where you wouldn't expect it. There is a nice corridor where Clement's Bridge is busy, and it just seems like the ideal little community. We are also so close to Haddon Heights, which is really taking off.
"They are so supportive here," she adds, saying one customer already has sewed her a doughnut apron. "We see a lot of familiar faces. I don't know if we've met everyone yet, but pretty close and they keep coming back."
While Pesyna recognizes that doughnuts continue to be trendy, she has no fears about riding that wave.
"Doughnuts have been around forever, and you are never going to say it's a bad time for doughnuts."
Pesyna's warmth and playfulness is reflected in the atmosphere of Donut Revolution, with its mix of mid-century touches, handcrafted elements and all-out glam. A long cozy window seat with throw pillows is especially fun for little kids.
"This is what would happen if you let me take over the entire house. It's fun and funny and a little bit of glam but also relaxed, kind of what we are going for with our doughnuts."
The chairs gathered at each table were once in a deli, and their beat-up feel just adds to the homey kitsch of the place.
Team member Rebecca Hickman of Pitman is the chalk artist whose flowers and fun proclamations about doughnuts and the business of ordering decorate the counter that dominates the room.
"I like making the doughnuts," Hickman says. "I love when they come in and say, 'Surprise me, make whatever we want. Then we get to have some fun!'"
Also behind the counter with the drizzles and dips is Ayana Brooks of Sicklerville, who says that besides greeting customers and eating doughnuts, her favorite part of the job is "watching the kids watching us work with the dough. They get so excited!"
Brooks, who worked with Pesyna at West Chester University, has some marketing experience and is helping with the social media push for the new business.
For now, Pesyna's team is all about changing what you consider a doughnut to be.
"The concept is turning your boring old doughnuts on their head, and getting the doughnut you deserve," she says.
While Fruity Pebbles will never be farm fresh, Pesyna is committing to source local (as she did with the coffee) wherever she can, such as choosing Balford Farms for the shop's dairy.
She also wants new customers to know that although Donut Revolution is not gluten-free because there is wheat flour in the shop, they do make gluten-free doughnuts for those with sensitivities, with a dedicated fryer and mixer and gluten-free batter, and separate toppings and dips.
"We went from a 4-foot hood to a 9-foot hood just to be able to be able to do that. But of course, there is flour in the air."
So, not quite one month in, what is Pesyna's favorite part of the job?
"I love when people ask, 'Can we watch you make them?' That is exactly why we are doing it in front of the glass. I say, 'Please come over and stare!'
"It's like a doughnut zoo!"
Information from: The Courier-Post, www.courierpostonline.com