Foodstuffs: Three Decades of Donuts in Downtown Franklin

May 13, 2016

Credit Natasha Haverty

Brothers Donuts in Franklin has some pretty odd hours of operation: 3 am to noon, Mondays through Friday, with a 2 am opening on Saturdays.

But it’s worked. The donut shop has been open for the past 35 years. And for 33 of those, it's just been one brother in the kitchen. 

Don’t try to get Malvarino Rizzo—people know him as Mal—to wax poetic about donuts. Chocolate frosted, honey dipped, apple, jelly, cream filled, coconut—for him and his brother, they were a business venture. 35 years ago, he was 20 years old, hanging at his brother’s apartment in Boston and they saw an ad for property up in Franklin, New Hampshire.

“Sitting in his house one day looking for a piece of real estate and this picture popped up in the newspaper, building for sale.”

So he and his brother bought this storefront, learned a little about making donuts, and figured, how hard could it be?

But two years after they moved up here and opened up shop, Rizzo’s brother was killed in a motorcycle accident—just up the road from here. Mal was right behind him.

“Yeah it was tragic but I stuck it out.”

But Brothers Donuts stayed open—his parents even moved up from Massachusetts to help him for a while.

Rizzo’s average weekend—is 22 straight hours of rolling dough and cutting out donuts.

"I come in Friday afternoon at one, I get started I don’t get home until noon the next day."

He says he sleeps from 7 to 11 in the morning most days.

We’re standing in the kitchen, it smells like warm jam, sugar, fried dough.

“I mix up 350 pounds of dough on a Saturday. That’s just for the day. ”

In other words business is good. Brothers Donuts also does wholesale, to around 50 convenience stores around the state.

Rizzo’s son, Matt works here too now. He says lately they sell 30 dozen donuts out of here a day. On Saturday mornings they have customers starting right when they open at 2.

But lots of times, when he’s in this kitchen rolling and cutting the next batch of donuts, Mal Rizzo says he’s thinking about his business partner, his brother.

“I think about it, I say, 'You left me here doing this. You’re having it easy.'”

Right now, though, Rizzo’s just thinking about his next nap.