Review by Kirsten O'Brien/The AS Review
Tucked away on Electric Avenue, in close proximity to Whatcom Falls, Lafeen’s Donuts & Ice Cream is easy to miss. But for the loyal locals who visit the shop every day for fresh-baked bear claws, apple fritters, cream-filled Bismarcks and other tasty treats, the inconspicuous shop has become a beloved neighborhood fixture for the past 26 years.
Walking into Lafeen’s is like walking into a ‘90s era sitcom. It’s “Wayne’s World” meets the neighborhood bakery, and the time warp atmosphere only adds to its charm.
Wooden picnic tables covered with plastic snowflake tablecloths are surrounded by a combination of bright orange and wood-paneled walls. Cardboard love notes about Lafeen’s written by shop visitors cluster on a corner wall. A huge glass case full of all sorts of doughnut goodies greets you when you walk through the front door, and at the other end of the store sits an ice cream case where – if your sweet tooth still hasn’t been satisfied – you can choose from 16 different flavors.
Lafeen’s has been in business since 1983, and they have truly perfected the doughnut. I visited the shop on two occasions. On my first trip I got a decadent cream-filled Bismarck, as well as a classic doughnut with pink frosting and sprinkles. Both were delicious and not overly dry or crumbly like the way grocery store-bought doughnuts can be. The Bismarck was the size of my palm, had ample amounts of smooth cream and the chocolate on top looked fresh. Even the classic doughnut was delicious. It tasted fresh and was even better after being warmed in the microwave.
Perhaps the only drawback at Lafeen’s is that they do not allow items to be purchased on a credit or debit card if the total is under $5. Although I found this to be slightly inconvenient, it just meant that I had I buy one of Lafeen’s massive bear claws in order to use my card, and they are nothing to complain about.
The second time I went, I couldn’t help but order a generous amount of the doughnut holes that sat atop the doughnut counter when I walked in. The doughnut morsels had just the right amount of glaze on them, and when warmed they melt in your mouth. At a dollar per dozen, the price is definitely right.
Justin Born, who has worked at Lafeen’s for two years, said that the doughnuts are made from a secret recipe that the Lafeen family passed down to the shop’s new owners, the Samuth family, when the shop was sold in 2003. He said that new batches of doughnuts are made fresh every day.
At Lafeen’s, the service is the just as important as the food. Born, who works most days at the shop, greets everyone who walks through the doors as if they are old friends.
“When I’m holding down the shop, I want you to feel good about ordering doughnuts,” Born said. “I feel privileged to work here.”
With every sincere “Hey, what up man!” greeting and “Later dude!” goodbye, Born gives one the sense that he is not just up putting on a plastic front, but that he truly cares about Lafeen’s customers. This makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
If you haven’t heard of Lafeen’s, it may be because the shop does not do much advertising.
Born said that the store relies on word-of-mouth promotion, although he is in the process of setting up a Lafeen’s Facebook page. Born said that Lafeen’s T-shirts, which are sold for $15, are also effective forms of promotion.
Not much has changed at Lafeen’s since its beginnings. From the décor to the doughnuts, it is almost frozen in time. For those that know about the reclusive shop, there is no better place in Bellingham to get a doughnut.