On Oct. 8, Grounds Donut House in the Throggs Neck celebrated its official grand opening with white, pink and black balloons, as adults and children crowded the street and DJ Dom Tufaro spun ’70s and ’80s dance classics. To the side of the entrance stood two young adults – one with a donut in hand and the other recording him with his phone. As he put the multi-colored, crisped-rice cereal donut to his lips, he quoted YouTube-famous pizza reviewer and Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy: “Okay. One bite, everybody knows the rules,” and proceeded to sink his teeth into the sweet treat.
The donut shop is small and filled with cheekiness and ambiance. The right wall of the shop is covered in artificial green foliage with a florescent pink sign in all caps that reads: “I LICKED IT, SO IT’S MINE.” On the other side, visitors are supplied with bright markers and instructed to leave their tag on the “signature wall.” The sayings read “Best of luck,” “Donuts make the world go ‘round” and “Best of the best.”
Then of course – there’s the donuts.
The flavors are unique and over-the-top. The cannoli donut is filled with mascarpone cheese, topped with a glaze, chocolate chips and a tiny cannolo. The maple bacon donut is glazed and sprinkled with real bacon bits and the Nutella bomb has hazelnut chocolate spread oozing out of it. The donuts are rich and tooth-achingly sweet.
The shop has approximately 14 to 15 different flavors, eight to 10 of which are featured daily and rotate on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. They also offer seasonal specialties, like their pumpkin cheesecake donut which currently sells out “nearly every day,” according to one of the workers behind the counter. Grounds also sells its own proprietary blend of coffee.
Located at 4039 E. Tremont Ave., Grounds Donut House stands where the beloved Miles Coffee Bar once stood. Miles was a staple of the neighborhood, but the business struggled with the dawning of the pandemic, which coincided with the tragic loss of the owner, Mario D’Agostino, who died of colon cancer in June 2020. After D’Agostino passed, his wife worked to keep the business afloat until financial struggles forced her to close the doors earlier this year.
“Miles Coffee bar was here, I knew the owner and we wanted to keep it alive,” says Danny Hill, a partner and co-owner of the donut shop, and Throggs Neck native.
The team of partners involved in Grounds Donut House, which opened its first location in Danbury, Connecticut, in 2020, are a group of friends: Danny Hill, Jimmy Lyons, Nick Terrana and Mauro Tropeano — Hill and Tropeano being Bronx natives.
“[Mario] brought something super interesting to the neighborhood, it derived from a love for that neighborhood, and I was like, you know, ‘Can we carry this torch?’” said Tropeano.
And carry the torch they did.
Grounds Donut House hopes to keep in step with the sense of community that Miles Coffee Bar established. “We’re not fly-by-the-night,” says Tropeano of the business’ intent to be community-focused while building on the sweet brand.
The Throggs Neck community successfully petitioned to have D’Agostino’s memory immortalized in a street dedication and in June 2022, their request was granted. The corner of Miles Avenue and East Tremont Avenue now reads: Mario D’Agostino way.
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