FAIRFIELD —There’s no sign of what hides behind the unassuming facade of the Kennebec Cafe.
Next to a piece of plywood covering up what used to be a neighboring window, passersby may not even be able to tell the cafe is open.
But locals with a sweet tooth, including a generation of Colby College students, know that tucked tightly in the downtown eatery is a smorgasbord of doughnuts — handmade to order.
For 12 years, cafe owner Ann Maglaras has fried up doughnuts and created a near endless list of flavors, serving thousands of the classic doughy treat to area residents and college students.
Fans should fill up. Maglaras, 60, and her husband, John, 67, are looking to sell the restaurant and move north to the Greenville area.
“We’ve outgrown this place,” Maglaras said, adding that she has had to remove tables because the small kitchen couldn’t withstand the number of orders.
Some of that may have to do with the doughnuts.
When she first started making doughnuts for the restaurant, “I wondered if I could make a hundred different flavors,” Maglaras said.
Resting in front of her on a pearly white serving tray were six doughnuts, each as unique and inventive as the one next to it. There was a Cookies and Cream doughnut, a Pumpkin Roll doughnut topped with cream cheese frosting, and a 4:20 doughnut, with Fritos and whoopie pie filling, which gets its name from the popular code phrase for marijuana consumption.
There is also a doughnut called Cereal Killer — topped with Froot Loops — and one modeled after the king of rock ‘n’ roll.
“That one’s called the Sequined Jumpsuit,” Maglaras said, pointing at an Elvis Presley-inspired chocolate doughnut topped with sliced bananas and a peanut butter glaze, components of Presley’s favorite sandwich: peanut butter and banana.
There are 116 varieties total.
Maglaras said the idea to start frying doughnuts regularly came to her at her previous restaurant, the Eating House.
“My partner then came to work and said ‘I should fry some doughnuts to order,’ and I said ‘Jeez, that sounds like a good idea,’” Maglaras said. “That was it.”
After the Eating House on U.S. Route 201 in Fairfield closed, Maglaras opened up the Kennebec Cafe, which also serves a full breakfast menu. Maglaras started with just four different doughs — plain, chocolate, molasses and squash — before adding dozens to the mix. Every morning, Maglaras gets up at 4 a.m. to start preparing dough for the day and setting up ingredients for other breakfast items before opening the cafe at 4:45 a.m. The couple lives above the restaurant.
“I go to bed in the afternoon,” Maglaras said with a laugh before adding the reason why she doesn’t mind the early mornings. “It’s hard to get a good doughnut nowadays, especially a homemade one.”
Over the years, Maglaras developed unique flavors by looking at conventional and unconventional sources.
“I have a lot of cookbooks,” she said. “I’ll read a cookbook like you would a novel.”
Perhaps her most touching flavor of doughnut is the Willie Wolfington, a chocolate and peppermint candy doughnut named after a dog that one of Maglaras’s employees rescued.
“When he passed away I said I’d make a doughnut and name it after him, and every time someone orders it I’ll donate money to the animal shelter,” Maglaras said.
The flavors range from traditional — chocolate coconut, cinnamon sugar — to the innovative (margarita doughnut, anyone?) to the mysterious — just what is a Fatty Arbuckle?
“A Fatty Arbuckle is a whoopie pie doughnut with a peanut butter glaze,” Maglaras said.
“And if you eat 20 of them a day you’ll become a Fatty Arbuckle,” John Maglaras said with a laugh, connecting the sugary concoction to the hefty silent film star of the early 1900s.
The five most popular flavors are Pumpkin Roll, Chocolate Sugared, Apple Pie, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip and Apple Cider.
The smell of the warm glaze and freshly fried dough of the pumpkin roll doughnut removes any comparison to a conventional store-bought one. When cutting into the dough — because it’s too hot to be hand food — the fork slides through the warm dough as the cool homemade cream cheese frosting slowly melts from atop the dough. The combination of warm and cool blends perfectly in the first couple bites as the sweet pumpkin dough melts in your mouth.
Over the 12 years of business, Kennebec Cafe has been a weekend oasis for hundreds of Colby College students, each looking for a delicious, cheap, home-cooked meal.
“I really like it. I’ve gotten the red velvet doughnut and the Boston Creme one,” said Matthew Newman, a senior history student from Westford, Mass. While working on campus over the summer, Newman went with his parents to the Kennebec Cafe one weekend while they were visiting.
Once Ann and John Maglaras move up the Moosehead Trail, John Maglaras plans to spend a lot of time fly-fishing.
But they also will open a restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner — and doughnuts, of course. “I know I can do this again,” Maglaras said confidently, when asked if she’d have a problem starting new. “It’s all I’ve done.”
Jesse Scardina — 861-9239