New donut shop a smashing success

Locals crave what's in The Pink Box

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Eager Lincoln residents line up waiting for The Pink Box to open every morning. And they love it. “I’ve not had a day when I didn’t sell out,” said the donut shop’s coowner, Patrick Rhinehart, who recently worked at the Thunder Valley Casino and never owned a donut shop before. “We were unprepared for this kind of excitement about a donut shop.” Rhinehart and his wife, Christina, opened their shop at 5 a.m. June 9 – a Tuesday – hoping to ease into the business and get all the kinks out before the busy weekend days. That, however, wasn’t the case. “I was sold out by 9 and I did another bake,” Patrick Rhinehart said. “We sold out again by 1.” So far, there has yet to be a day when the donuts aren’t gone before 3 p.m., the shop’s scheduled closing time. Many of the customers, according to Rhinehart, are already regulars. “I could point out 20 to30 who come in every single day,” Rhinehart said. Shanna Hein was visiting The Pink Box with her son, Connor, for the second time June 18. “It’s the only donut shop in town,” Hein said. “They’re fresh, they’re good and they’re tasty. The service is friendly, too.” Lincoln resident Kitty Babcock said she tries to stay away from eating too many donuts but her husband has been visiting the store since it opened, and has brought her along more than once. “I’m so happy they’re doing good,” Babcock said. “The prices are really good. The donuts are wonderful and fresh, and the people … they’ve got the best pople to run it. They’re so nice.” Rhinehart initially ordered more than 1,000 of the shop’s pink boxes – each holding a dozen donuts – and ran out of those in five days. When asked how many donuts he has sold since opening, Rhinehart shook his head and said he has no idea. On Tuesday, he said he cooked about 1,200 donuts, and sold out of double that number each weekend day. Those donuts are composed of between 30 and 40 different varieties, Rhinehard said. Traditional donuts such as cakes, raised donuts, bars and old-fashioned are accompanied by apple fritters, cinnamon rolls and jelly-filled varieties. Rhinehard’s favorite? A chocolate-iced raised donut. The traditional donuts are available every day and the more specialized donuts rotate frequently so customers can have a different selection from one visit to the next. Standard donuts start at 90 cents each, with a dozen going for $9 per pink box. For those who know exactly what they want, e-mail-ahead orders are accepted for fast pickup at Phone orders are also accepted. Also on the menu is a selection of coffee drinks, including lattes, cappuccinos and mochas. While most of Lincoln’s residents are winding down or sleeping around 10 p.m., Rhinehart is baking donuts. More than 12 hours later, he’s still working – and that’s without a break. When he finally closes shop and dusts the last of the flour off, Rhinehart goes home to spend some time with his three kids, ranging from 18 months to 5 years old, before hitting the sack. “I have no regrets,” Rhinehard said. “I knew this place would be great, I just didn’t think we would be this great this quick.” Rhinehard does make one request for his many customers – patience. Without having expected the business to do so well so quickly, Rhinehart is looking to add another baker to his staff so he can keep his supply up with the demand, and he said he just needs some time to get into a solid flow. The Pink Box is at 825 S. Highway 65, Suite 20, in the Raley’s parking lot. Store hours are from 5 a.m. until the donuts are gone. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at