WEST VILLAGE — Cholesterol-free doughnuts that have built a following online are on their way to the West Village.
Holey Donuts!, a company that has operated exclusively on the Internet for the past 10 years, is setting up shop on Seventh Avenue South just off Grove Street, offering doughnuts that are freshly frosted with each order.
The bakery will use a patented cooking process that results in a pastry with just a fraction of the fat of regular doughnuts, the company said.
"The reason people love the doughnuts is because usually diet food and low-fat food, it's just a little bit off, it's not like the real thing," New York-based owner Frank Dilullo said.
Dilullo "was literally born into the doughnut business" — his father was one of the first people to own and operate Dunkin' Donuts franchises, and the younger Dilullo was born in the back of one.
While Dilullo's doughnuts have just 3 to 5 grams of fat compared to 15 to 30 grams in other doughnuts, Dilullo insisted they are "not diet doughnuts."
"They happen to be doughnuts that are made differently," he said. "Our doughnuts look and taste like every doughnut you find in a big chain."
Dilullo declined to reveal the details of his cooking process, which he said he happened upon by accident, just by trying a different method than the standard deep fryer.
He wasn't aiming to make a low fat doughnut, just to try something new.
"I tasted one and said, 'Holy s---! These are really good,'" Dilullo said. "That's where the name came from."
Dilullo sent the doughnuts to a lab in California for testing to confirm the low levels of fat and calories, "because it almost sounded too good to be true," he said. Then he worked on nailing down the cooking process, which he said took years to get exactly right.
Unlike other doughnut shops, Dilullo's model for the new store is "nothing on display, nothing to throw away."
Instead of keeping display cases full of doughnuts that will eventually go stale and have to be tossed, Holey Donuts! will keep the desserts in four special chambers at 105 degrees and 95 percent humidity, Dilullo said.
There will be a counter with toppings and frostings, and when customers order from a large display board, warm doughnuts will be filled and frosted in front of their eyes.
"Unless you grew up in a Dunkin' Donuts like I did, you have no idea what it's like to taste a doughnut that is so fresh, the icing is still wet," Dilullo said.
Richard Zangrillo from BOND New York helped Dilullo find the retail location at 101 Seventh Ave. South, which was previously a cupcake shop that went out of business after only three months. Dilullo signed a 10-year lease and said he's excited about setting up shop in the Village.
"I like the neighborhood — it has the right amount of charm," Dilullo said. "The demographic is right and the location is phenomenal — it's right next to Starbucks."
Prices are not set in stone yet, but Dilullo anticipates the doughnuts will sell for about $3.85 apiece.
Holey Donuts! is slated to open around May 1. There will be a three-day pre-grand opening for fans who can get on the guest list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with "New York City guest list" in the subject line.
Attendees will be given a free box of doughnuts, as well as a reusable tote bag filled with goodies.