Open for Business December Profile: Firecakes Donuts
“Donuts are good for your soul,” says Alejandra Morena, Firecakes Donuts’ supervisor at its new Oak Park location. Possibly Oak Parkers agree with her claim, for the new shop just across North Boulevard from the Harlem CTA entrance is frequently packed with folks eating in and ordering donuts to go. Good for the soul, or just good for the tastebuds. Good either way.
If you’ve heard of Firecakes, you might know about its signature dish, the donut ice cream sandwich. They offer a classic version, a build-your-own and a (rotating) featured. At the Oak Park location, the third and newest store for Firecakes, they are trying something new: chicken sandwiches on a brioche bun. These come with special Firecakes sauce as well as their own coleslaw and house-made potato chips.
I asked Moreno how Firecakes set itself apart from its competitors. We sat together at a long table as the sunlight poured in. Her answer was this: they focus on quality and consistency. They make sure that their products are always excellent, and this steady delivery keeps customers coming back for more. Jonathan Fox, Firecakes Donuts owner, elaborated: “You also have to give [the customer] something compelling. There’s got to be a differential, this element of separation that is going to make people think […] of going out of their way to have a Firecakes. How do we make it special? It’s one of those indulgences […] that is very approachable and very affordable. We have donuts that are $1 and $2.24 and we have donuts that are a little bit more.”
Fox—whose other locations are in River North and Lincoln Park—said he first heard of Oak Park from his neighbor, who happens to be one of the principals of Clark Street Development, the company responsible for the Emerson. Fox says, “I really liked what I saw. I liked the residential development. I liked the quaintness and the attention to detail on Marion Street. I felt like there was a nice balance of restaurants […] [With] the demographic of Oak Park proper as well as River Forest, I thought we could do well. The final thing that pulled me in was having the Metra and the el here. Being on the corner here by the Harlem stop is a good thing.” Fox adds that the Village made it “refreshingly easy” to open. He says they were “respectful and practical.”
I asked Moreno how the first two weeks were. She said, “It was amazing. It was really great to see so many people come out and say, we’re really glad that you’re here.”
The next time you’re looking for a peppermint hot chocolate donut or a classic buttermilk old-fashioned, the next time you want to bring an assorted box to work or try out a candied pepper bacon and maple long john, the next time you want to get your vegan on and still enjoy a donut, the next time you want to reserve online and try order pick up, the next time you want a donut ice cream sandwich, stop by the new Firecakes Donuts at 104 N. Maple in Oak Park. Open early until late seven days a week: commuters, grab your breakfast as early as 6:30 and night owls, shut it down 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. All the donuts, just about all the time.