Norwood is about to get a little sweeter this weekend with the addition of over-the-top donut maker Starlight Doughnut Lab.
On Saturday, owner/baker Ben Greiwe is opening up shop at 4603 Carter Ave. He says he’s been renovating the petite white building where his brick-and-mortar has been located for two years. While the majority of space is taken up by baking operations, it will offer a front counter area for ordering grab-and-go, plus a table and two chairs.
“When picking out our storefront location, I was looking for a neighborhood that was on the rise, close to my house and didn’t have any direct donut competition,” Greiwe tells CityBeat. “In the time we have owned the building, we have seen Norwood grow with new restaurants, new apartments and want to be a part of that growth. We plan on being an active member of the Norwood family."
Starlight Doughnut Lab has been in operation since the start of January 2019, when Greiwe made some donuts for a New Year’s Eve party at Nine Giant Brewpub in Pleasant Ridge. After positive feedback, he began selling them weekly at the brewery. Since then, Greiwe’s small-batch baked goods have been available at destinations including Nine Giant and its Fermentorium, Apricot Coffee House in Pleasant Ridge, Proud Hound in Silverton, Copper & Flame in Over-the-Rhine and more. He even made donuts for CityBeat’s annual Brunched event — a raspberry mimosa donut featuring a champagne glaze with “dry ice to carbonate raspberries to give the donut that bubbly mimosa feeling,” Greiwe says.
Starlight Doughnut Lab's treats are made a little differently than your average donut. They use mashed potatoes in their dough which "boosts moisture, sweetness, flavor, and adds a crispy outside layer thanks to the potato's natural sugars caramelizing in the fryer," Greiwe says. He says their flavor combos and that unique texture set Starlight apart from other local donut purveyors.
The Norwood storefront will offer both cake donuts and 48-hour brioche donuts. Greiwe hopes to eventually expand the menu to include cinnamon rolls, fritters and more pastries. But for now, guests can look forward to six “staple” flavors and six unique monthly flavors. His always-on-the-menu options will be a churro donut, a vanilla-glazed donut with sprinkles, a chocolate-glazed donut with sprinkles, a double-chocolate donut with sprinkles, a raspberry-lemonade donut and an everything bagel donut with garlic-herb goat cheese.
“My favorite flavor we’ve ever done is our everything bagel with garlic-herb goat cheese filling,” Greiwe says. “This is made with our 48-hour brioche and is a late addition to our staples. I made them for my family’s Christmas Eve party this year, and after I tried them, I knew we had to have these in the store every day.”
For January, patrons can also try donuts in the following flavors: carrot cake, dreamsicle, lemon poppyseed, maple butternut squash, brownie batter and raspberry-jam-filled (this is a brioche donut). Greiwe also plans to have one vegan flavor available per week and, staring in March, one gluten-free flavor per month. “We still have to do a couple test batches to get it perfected,” he says of the gluten-free option.
In addition to donuts, Starlight will serve local Proud Hound coffee. They became friends after they started selling Greiwe’s donuts out of their coffee truck.
While he doesn’t have a background in baking, Greiwe says he fell in love with it after his brother, Nick, “sparked a passion for cooking in me.”
“Getting to see him have fun in the kitchen with his friends is one of my favorite memories. I lost my brother when I was 18 and really changed my outlook on life. I no longer wanted to just work at a job, I wanted to find my passion. It took me awhile, but when I cook I’m at peace. I feel like Nick is right there with me.”
Starlight donuts will still be available a Nine Giant, with a possibility of adding more stops in the future. Greiwe also hopes to expand his relationship with local farmers to grab more fresh veggies and fruits to add to his baked goods.
But, for now, he is ready to focus on his storefront.
“To be honest, (opening this bakery) is one of the most exciting/terrifying things I’ve ever done," Greiwe says. "Up until Saturday, this has been a dream — we’ve been able to work other jobs and have this as a growing side hustle — but that all changes on January 15. We get to find out if this donut shop can succeed and support our family operation.”
Starlight Doughnut Lab is located at 4603 Carter Ave., Norwood. Get more info at facebook.com/starlightdoughnutlab.