SAN ANTONIO – The line of cars each morning often stretches through the parking lot at The Original Donut Shop and spills onto the street in the 3300 block of Fredericksburg Road.
While the scramble for breakfast can be busy most weekdays, the actual morning rush begins hours long before the doors open at 6 a.m.
The bakery section of the business where the doughnuts are made starts buzzing by 2 a.m.
The bakers, like Miguel Gonzalez, begin kneading and rolling out huge mounds of dough.
“About 60 pounds, it will be on a normal day,” he said. “If it’s busy, we make another batch.”
After working at the shop for 18 years, Gonzalez easily reduces each mound of dough into perfect little circles.
His co-workers then brown them to perfection, and bathe them in a sugary glaze.
Their morning workload includes cooking up all types of confections of the doughnut kind, from glazed to chocolate-covered to jelly- and cream-filled.
“My favorite is the cinnamon roll and the apple fritter,” Gonzalez said.
While he is careful not to overindulge, Juliana Aguilar, who gives the doughnuts their fruit or cream fillings, said she is hooked.
“I got addicted the first time,” Aguilar said. “I was, like, 'Oh! I got to have a fresh one!' And it's mostly the glazed (that she eats).”
They are among a crew of about three dozen staff members who keep the popular shop running.
Their labors produce as many as 2,500 doughnuts each day.
Aguilar’s mother works on the other side of the building in the kitchen, whipping up as many as 2,000 tacos daily.
“We've been open since 1954. I was a family business then and it's a family business now,” said Patricia Lopez, the shop’s accountant who also oversees operations.
Lopez is one of the newer members of the “family,” which she says is not limited to blood relatives.
Customers also are part of the fold.
“We have people who came here as children with their parents, and their parents came here with their parents,” she said. “I think it really comes down to great food. You can tell when there's love in the food, people who enjoy making it.”
Many of the shop’s employees have been making that food for decades.
Lopez said they have several who have worked there for 30 years or more.
While the business is known for both its doughnuts and tacos, she said the two sides don’t often compete.
“Everybody is excited when we're busy because we all know that if you're busy, it means people are liking what you're doing,” Lopez said.
“They put in a lot of hard work. But when you love what you do, it really doesn't feel like work.”
Based on the amount of business that they do, it appears a lot of people are grateful that they do work.