Tales From the Donut Line at Brown’s

first_imgMatt and Kara Lefever of Richmond, VA were first in line for Brown’s Donuts on a recent hot, sunny day. BomThey wait in line to get on the Parkway from Exit 7-S. They wait in line to purchase beach tags.  So why in the world would they wait in line during 98 degree heat and stifling humidity to purchase a few donuts?Well, if you are talking about Brown’s Restaurant, located on a remote stretch of the Boardwalk at St. Charles Place since 1976, and “they” are Ocean City visitors and locals, the question really isn’t a question at all.“It’s a family tradition,” said Matt Lefever of Richmond Virginia, at the head of the line with sister Kara. “We have been coming to Ocean City for many years. The donuts here are great and we have just made it a family tradition. We like the cinnamon-sugar.”Easton PA’s Jonathan Tanis, in line with 3-year-old son Noah, had a similar story.“The donuts here are the best. We’ve been coming here for a long, long time.”His favorite? “Vanilla glazed.”The breakfast line (foreground) and donut line at Brown’s restaurant.Inside Browns on a recent morning, things were humming at a frenetic pace: staff was hustling to turn over tables and seats at the counter for breakfast. The fast service kept the other line for food very short outside the building.The donut line is something altogether different. On most summer days, people begin lining up well in advance of the restaurant’s 7 a.m. opening.  In this case, even the first person in line will still be doing some waiting. The “donut team” will be ready.  Proprietor Melissa Brown calls the three-person squad “a well-oiled machine.” However, that doesn’t mean the donut window will open early.Mauro Rigante of Central New Jersey is a veteran of the line who gave a knowing grin. “You could set your watch by it. They don’t open at 6:59 and they don’t open at 7:01.  When that window opens you know that it’s 7 a.m.”Brown said her husband Jim, the son of original owners Marjorie and Harmon Brown, has worked at the restaurant since he was 13 and feels strongly about that consistency and punctuality.“He really cares about our employees and needs that time before 7 a.m. for coffee with them and talk about what’s going on with them. At 7, then it’s time to open the doors and let everybody come inside.”OK, not everybody. The folks in the donut line wait patiently in the hot sun, rain, or whatever conditions might be present.  It’s all about waiting for their chance to step up to the window and order one of the six varieties:  Powdered, cinnamon, chocolate glazed, vanilla glazed, honey, and of course, plain.The family-run business, now in its second generation, has jump-started its third. The couple’s four kids, Hailey, Cynthia, and twins James and Paige range in age from 16 to 12 and all work at the restaurant.For Brown’s complete menu and more information, visit the website at www.brownsocnj.com.Jonathan Tanis and three-year-old Noah, of Easton, PA, wait for donuts at Brown’s Restaurant.On some days, the queue grows to a lengthy proportion and stretches as far as the lifeguard headquarters building at 1st Street.  Usually it’s not that long. Regardless of length, it always moves along quickly. The diverse group of people are chatty and upbeat, bonded by their mutual love of Brown’s donuts.Several years back, a yellow line was painted along the boardwalk to control the queue during peak bike-riding hours. And the Brown’s employees will come out to the line and offer water during the hottest days.“Our customers are the greatest,” Melissa said. “We want to make sure everyone is safe when there is a lot of bike and pedestrian traffic, and we want them to stay hydrated when it’s hot.”Last weekend, a bicyclist adjusting his speed to navigate the knot of people gathered at Browns was heard to say “they must be some fantastic donuts.”Kevin McCormack of Bethlehem, Pa. said waiting in line was no big deal.“Everything is fresh. We would wait more than an hour (if necessary). It’s a good, quality product.”His wife, Mary McCormack was taking no chances and ordered six dozen donuts for themselves and other family members. “If you do the math it works out to about three donuts per person,” she said.  “Nobody can eat just one.”When adventure coach Patt Osborne regained her sense of smell and taste after two years without them, Brown’s donut line was one of first places she visited.Fitness guru Patt Osborne of Haddon Township, NJ is the founder and CEO of Boomer Chick Adventures, a company that specializes in outdoor adventures designed for baby boomer aged women.  The half-day, full day and weekend events usually center around hiking, kayaking standup paddle surfing or some other other invigorating activity.  Check out her website at www.boomerchickadventures.com for more details.So what was Osborne doing in a donut line of all places?“I recently recovered from an upper respiratory issue, during which I lost my senses of taste and smell… for more than two years,” she said.As the aroma of the freshly-made donuts wafted across the boardwalk, Patt’s presence there suddenly made a lot more sense.“Besides, I only eat one,” she said with a chuckle.last_img read more