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Shaikh’s Place

shaikhs placeIt hasn’t been painted in 53 years, but customers drive out of their way for doughnuts and tacos at Shaikh’s Place, reports Rachel Wharton in The New York Times (3/16/14). "I come from Midwood — and that’s far — just for these doughnuts," says Denise McCarthy, who admits she makes the trip twice a week. "Nothing compares," she says. "Don’t tell anyone." Most agree that the doughnuts are something special, that owner Shaikh Kalam started making "doughnut magic" shortly after he bought the eatery in 1994.

"There’s a lot of little knickknack to it," says Shaikh, not giving much away, but allowing that he’s worked at making his doughnuts "lighter and less greasy, tinkering with the temperature of the frying oil and the time he let the dough rise." He starts each morning at five, making "150 dozen fresh doughnuts every day." Shaikh added the tacos "about seven years ago," after realizing "that he could sell the snacks his Mexican countermen were grilling for themselves. Today … more than half of his customers speak Spanish." Hash browns and eggs are also now on the menu.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the decor. When Shaikh bought the place, it was known as the Donut Shoppe, and the original, 53-year-old sign still hangs out front (image). Inside, the "fading pastel pink decor … has been left essentially untouched," and "a missing stool at the counter" has not been replaced. "I might paint," says Shaikh. Then again, maybe not: "Once they come in, I don’t lose customers — they’re keepers," he says. Longtime customer Dean Mininni confirms this, reporting that when he broke up with his girlfriend, she got Staten Island, and he got Shaikh’s Place.