Cops, coffee and doughnuts have a connection in the world of stereotypes. Former St. Louis City police officers Frank and Linda LoForte, owners of the new Ex Cop Donut Shop on Telegraph Road, say there is truth behind the so-called myth.
“People always teased when I was giving them a ticket: ‘Why don’t you go get a doughnut instead’ and I said ‘As soon as I’m done arresting you I’ll go get one,’” Frank said. “I thought maybe it was just something to make fun of.”
Being from Sicily, Italy, he never understood the stereotype. So, once he became a police officer in the United States, he asked a veteran police officer where it came from. Before there were patrol cars there were foot beats. The best place to get out of the weather were doughnut shops because they were the only business open during atypical hours.
Frank happened to work in his uncle’s bakery as a child and came to this country in the 1960s. The knowledge of fresh Italian baking never left his mind. So, when he and Linda moved to Oakville 7 years ago, they had a dilemma of going far away to get a doughnut or pastry.
“We were excited at first because we thought (the pottery studio across the street) was a doughnut shop,” Frank said. “We had to be ex cops for the name to work, and we thought ‘Why not start a business that isn’t around here in doughnuts?’”
The couple’s journey began in St. Louis City, where Frank was a cop for 20 years and Linda for 13. Frank said the idea was always there, but after planning for almost a year, the entrepreneurs finally found a location along Telegraph. They have now been there for 2 months and hope to have a business to pass along to their children. They made the transition because “doughnuts don’t shoot at you.” Linda said it’s nice to put a smile on someone’s face for a change.
“We make our doughnuts—we don’t have them frozen or brought in from a different location. You can’t get anything like that around here,” Frank said. “We are going beyond tradition—we want to be an old-fashioned doughnut shop and want to make it a specialty. “
Since the couple bakes overnight for the next day’s customers, Linda hopes to open the shop 24 hours a day. Overnight hours are essential because the dough dictates the pace. With the typical St. Louis humidity, Frank said that sometimes for two or three hours it’s like running a marathon.
The shop specializes in cannolis, Italian cookies, made-from-scratch Belgian waffles and more. A customer favorite is the maple syrup bacon doughnut and a chocolate covered espresso bean. Kaldi’s coffee also is carried in the shop.
“I think the bakery part… it was just kind of destiny. It’s a future for the kids. I definitely want them to go to college and get a business degree,” Frank said. “Then the family business will be there if we are still fortunate to be around. If you have good product and good service you’ll have longevity. It’s always a gamble, but if you keep those at the forefront you’ll be all right.”