By Scott Etkin
A silver lining of the pandemic is that it has showcased the inventiveness of small business owners. Early on in the shutdown, Dan Cohen – the man behind the popular Danny Macaroons booth at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg market — started experimenting with making doughnuts at his café, Super Nice Coffee and Bakery, in East Harlem.
“We didn’t make doughnuts in any serious way before the pandemic,” he said. Initially, Dan and his girlfriend made the doughnuts at night just for themselves. But later, they “opened up the gate and turned on Uber [Eats] and GubHub, which we had never used before, and people started coming out. It was this really nice thing that was happening when everything was so crappy.”
These creative doughnuts are now a main attraction of the Super Nice in East Harlem, and the bakery’s second location, which is now in its soft opening on 108th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus. In addition to doughnuts, the little shop sells French baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and more, via window service only, similar to the original Super Nice. “We got a lot of delivery business from the Upper West Side,” he said, explaining why he chose the the neighborhood for the second bakery.
Danny Macaroons is still going strong, but Dan “never could envision a coconut macaroon store.” Opening Super Nice was instead an attempt to start a “great little neighborhood place.” He sells macaroons at the new bakery – “I’m contractually obligated,” he said with a laugh. All the baking is done in house is except for the macaroons since at 240 square feet, there simply isn’t enough space.
The doughnuts are made by hand from scratch in three forms: raised (yeast), vegan (yeast) and old fashioned (cake). Some of the more exotic flavors include: maple pecan, passion fruit, honey-glazed cornbread, Mexican hot chocolate and fruity pebbles.
“The inspiration [for different flavors] comes from all over the place,” he said. “We use these really beautiful purées, which are kind of like drink mixers” for most of the fruit glazes. Super Nice had a loganberry doughnut (a blackberry-raspberry hybrid), which they will be bringing back soon, because Dan’s girlfriend is from Buffalo, where loganberry is a popular drink. The mango-chili flavor was “from being in Spanish Harlem,” he said.
Super Nice’s UWS location is ramping up over this week – the signage and a bench out front are being installed and the kitchen isn’t yet at full capacity (doughnuts should be available if not this Friday then the week after). Since the service window is up a few steps, Dan said they will take payments outside for people with strollers or wheelchairs.
From handmade doughnuts to the hand-drawn pig logo (doodled by Dan himself), Super Nice has a personal, whimsical touch. “I’ve always enjoyed the businesses around the city that are like ‘Super Taste Noodles’ or ‘Happy Village,’” he said. “I didn’t have any name that I was particularly sold on. I just wanted to open a place that was super nice.”