60 Years In and Peter Pan’s Still Got It
Almost every visitor to Greenpoint has one specific stop: Peter Pan Donuts. The Manhattan Avenue shop is literally one of our claims to fame even without Tina Fey’s affections. There have been documentaries and shorts made about it. Their doughnuts have appeared on lists from here to Japan. Their summer ice cream sandwiches are things of beauty. And best of all, the price has still remained $1.10 for one doughnut, with a filling breakfast or lunch for under $10. As someone who lived around the corner for seven years, I frequently stopped by for a hangover breakfast or mid-afternoon pick-me-up (yes, doughnuts are snacks in my world). I’d noticed over the past couple of years, new flavors began appearing on their hallowed shelves, and they were definitely worth noting.
First, the backstory: Peter Pan Donuts has been around since the 50s, but the current proprietors, Donna and Christos Siafakas, bought it about 24 years ago. Donna is a second-generation Greenpointer and it was her aunt who let them know of the former owner’s impending retirement. The two lovebirds did meet in a Queens doughnut shop, after all. Not much changed after Peter Pan changed hands. Christos became head baker and it stayed that way until their son Peter took on the role a few years ago. Nowadays, Donna helps man the front during the morning—you can often see her chatting with the regulars towards the back of the shop—while their other son Demetri comes in for the afternoon and closing.
They did add sandwiches to the menu, turning it from strictly a doughnut shop. Otherwise, everything’s the same, even the uniforms that have to be bought in bulk since the colors were discontinued years ago. Except now, it’s much busier than ever before, busy enough that baking sometimes starts as early as 10pm the night before (the bakers usually come in at 1am). According to Donna, the farthest anyone’s traveled to come eat their doughnuts is a “very nice” family from Dubai. But her dream customers were Victor Williams from King of Queens and Alec Baldwin.
Most of the new flavors are actually Donna’s work. In her mind, people like new things so they needed to mix it up after decades of old fashioned glazed and chocolate cake doughnuts. The first real new addition to the racks of doughnuts was the red velvet. It doesn’t matter what you’re craving; if a tray of warm red velvets comes out of the kitchen, that’s what you’re getting.
Now, a number of “limited edition” flavors rotate into the daily menu including Blueberry Buttermilk, Maple, S’mores, French Toast, Apple Cider Glazed, Apple Cider Cinnamon, Tahitian Cream, and Carrot Cake. There are also, of course, the holiday specials like St. Joe’s Day zeppole and Fat Thursday pączki. Streudels also make frequent appearances, as does Christos’ contribution, Apple Fritters. Like the doughnuts, they’re some of the best in the city.
Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop is located at 727 Manhattan Avenue. They are open from about 5 AM to 8 PM, seven days a week.