Just deciding which donuts to treat yourself to is enough to drive you a bit crazy at Psycho Donuts, 2000 El Camino Real at Scott Blvd. in Santa Clara Town Centre. Which to choose?
Nutella the Hun with a topping of Nutella and sprinkles? Perhaps (or perhaps not) Dead Elvis, filled with cream, bananas, bacon, peanut butter and jelly or Cereal Killer topped with Cap’n Crunch? How about Suicide Squeeze, topped with Oreo cookie dust, as suggested by the Little League baseball team that Psycho Donuts sponsors?
“I like them,” said Santa Clara resident Josh Elmore, making a quick donut stop one Friday morning. “They’re not the same kind you get everywhere else.”
Psycho Donuts is Santa Clara’s newest high-end donut shop, calling itself “Silicon Valley’s original gourmet donut asylum.” It is the third Psycho donut shop, all independently owned by Webster Granger, who says that 75 percent of the donuts can’t be found anywhere else.
“I didn’t plan to open another store, but it was a killer deal even though the rent is double [what I’m paying elsewhere],” said Granger. “The [town centre] property manager called me after Fractured Prune closed. They left all their equipment. I had to jump on the opportunity.”
Fractured Prune Donuts also left behind the brand new space it had customized for the donut business, and Psycho Donuts opened there in August 2016.
When Psycho Donuts opened its first store in 2009 in Campbell, it was criticized for seemingly making light of mental health issues through its donut names and mental institution decor, which has since been toned down. However, the initial controversy resulted in a lot of free publicity, and a second shop opened in downtown San Jose inside Camera 3 Cinema.
Granger explains that gourmet donuts are “a definite trend in the whole country” and that their popularity rivals that of gourmet cupcakes. Psycho Donuts has two kinds–kitsch and gourmet–and uses high-quality ingredients, from freeze-dried or fresh fruit to Guittard baking cocoa.
“Because we’ve turned donuts into dessert, we do better in the afternoons,” said Granger, who was born in Colorado but traces his history with donuts back to growing up in Miami.
Saturday mornings, Granger would ride his bicycle a mile to pick up a dozen glazed Velvet Creme Donuts. Fast forwarding to 2009, he found his way to San Jose just as Psycho Donuts was starting up. He hooked up with its two business partners, offering them free startup help. Then in 2010, he became the third partner, and now, he is the sole owner.
“If you’re looking for something unique, we’re definitely unique,” said Santa Clara Psycho Donuts manager Shanna Brancato. “Our February special is a Cirque du Soleil donut with passion fruit custard.” The selection of some 33 “crazy good” donuts changes daily and seasonally.
Brancato points out that they make fresh gluten-free donuts every Friday, freezing some for availability throughout the week. They make five or six different kinds of vegan donuts daily. The cake donuts for all three stores are made in Santa Clara and the raised donuts in Campbell.
“Donuts are a tough business,” said Granger. “All your product expires every day.” So at day’s end, Psycho Donuts donates leftovers to homeless shelters. It donates fresh donuts to school and charity fundraisers.
The Santa Clara shop is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends, or until the donuts sell out. Follow Psycho Donuts on social media for occasional price specials on its donuts, which range from $1.50 to $4.50. For information, visit www.psychodonuts.com or call (408) 533-1023.