TELLURIDE – Descending the gondola at the Mountain Village Station, the smell of cooking donuts is tantalizing. If you’re anything like me, it is imperative to seek out its origin immediately and frenetically – bloodhound style.
Thankfully, heading toward the Gondola Plaza staircase leading down to the Beach, blessedly few steps lead directly to the source, the shining silver oasis that is the latest addition to the Mountain Village vending cart community, Amy’s Mini Donuts.
There Amy Ryan-Tavener has been offering inch-and-a-half sized morsels of carbohydrate lover’s perfection since Thanksgiving to the delight of children and adults looking for a quick, warm and inexpensive snack to fortify them for the day, the slopes or simply the gondola ride ahead.
“I really wanted to create something unique for Telluride, for locals and visitors alike to share, that tastes great and is affordable,” said Ryan-Tavener, whose enthusiasm for her product matches the bubbling soy oil into which a small hopper drops circles of raw donut batter for their quick metamorphosis into delicate golden-brown rings of vanilla cake in what is effectively a tiny, automated donut factory.
She likes to call them “A Party by the Dozen.”
Ryan-Tavener, who moved to the area from Park City, Utah, a year ago with her husband and young daughter, and has owned three different businesses, said she got the idea simply by wandering through Telluride and Mountain Village. She noticed that absent Baked in Telluride, the Telluride bakery and restaurant now being rebuilt after it was destroyed in a fire last year, no one seemed to be making donuts from start to finish in either town – save for perhaps dessert at a restaurant or two.
Given her entrepreneurial spirit, “The idea of starting my own business was not scary,” she said. “The bottom line with any business is that it’s all about the customer.”
And the customers do seem to be responding. In fact, the cart has already developed a following, sometimes daily, among those who like their donuts freshly cooked and not too sweet.
“I used to make donuts for my first job,” Ryan-Tavener admitted, referring to a two-year stint in a donut shop as an adolescent. “I like sweets, but obviously as you’re getting older you don’t want them to be too sweet.”
With that, she set out to find a mix, finally discovering a family-style base that she has adjusted for the altitude and her preference to create her cholesterol- and trans fat-free delights. Once cooked, customers have the choice of taking them away plain or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or chocolate sugar.
For the time being, Ryan-Tavener has purposely avoided any kind of glazes, hoping that gloved recreationists and grateful parents will appreciate her attempt at an easy-to-eat snack, but she plans to introduce the option once summer rolls around.
Although a dozen donuts cost $4 ($3 for a half-dozen), children and other cash-strapped passersby also have pretty good luck sweet talking Ryan-Tavener into parting with smaller quantities for a buck or two. Larger quantities are also available, although advance notice is appreciated, and Ryan-Tavener is also available for parties.
Organic milk and chocolate are $2 and coffee, hot chocolate and bottled water are $1.
“I wanted to have a fun company,” said Ryan-Tavener. “I want my customers to have a smile.”
Amy’s Mini Donuts, located on the Mountain Village Gondola Plaza, is open Tuesday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For special orders contact Amy Ryan-Tavener at 435/659-1824 or firstname.lastname@example.org.