In honor of National Donut Day, the Home Page is presenting its August 2015 feature of Ellie’s Old Fashioned Doughnuts, owned and operated by Danny Tassone and his family.
Editor’s note: In honor of National Donut Day, the Home Page is presenting its August 2015 feature of Ellie’s Old Fashioned Doughnuts.
Parked at the Franklin’s Farmers Market on Saturdays, Ellie’s Old Fashioned Doughnuts, owned and operated by Danny Tassone and his family, serves up dozens of orders to customers who start lining up as early as 8 a.m.
A cinnamon and powdered sugar aroma fills the surrounding area for customers standing in line under a white tent, waiting outside the shiny, wooden-looking trailer. The cake doughnuts are fried on location with foodies waiting for their regular order or the special flavor of the day.
The Tennessee Donut Brawl bracket stands on one side of the truck with the menu on the other. The shop on wheels is up for best doughnut in the competition, and has made it into the elite eight. Fans can vote for them as many times as they want.
Adults usually stand and decide on their order as kids with their minds made up wait with their arms stretched out to the small metal counter. Their loot promises to satisfy their sugar-crazed desires every time.
Starting at 2:30 a.m., the doughnut team starts heating the palm oil, making the batter and creating the glaze in anticipation of the morning rush.
“When we started, we were hoping to break even in a couple of years,” Tassone said. “But, it’s actually just I didn’t expect it to be this well known, and we see so many people out and about now that tell us, ‘Hi,’ after becoming customers.”
The family behind the sweet-treat life has changed dramatically in the past year, with Tassone marrying his wife, Amy, and the two having their newborn son, Will. That’s when Tassone transitioned the truck from a hobby to an official business.
In its five years, Ellie’s has rarely missed an appearance at the Franklin Farmers Market, even trudging through the ice and snow in January to sell products to the resilient customers braving the wintry elements.
Tassone’s whole business concept boils down to one ingredient: customer service.
“I just think we need to try to be personable with all our customers,” he said. “It was bred into my upbringing – actually knowing your customers and trying to know their names, that they are like a family to us and we look forward to seeing them every weekend.”
Life’s round like a doughnut
The evolution of Ellie’s started in 2010 when Tassone and a friend wanted to reenter the food industry. At the time, he was tinkering around with classic cars as his primary business.
Tassone comes from an Italian family from upstate New York that used to own a 200,000 square feet grocery store. The bakery was one of his favorite places to work.
The name originated from the memory his first wife, Ellie, who died of breast cancer in 2010.
“We wanted to honor her and do something with her name,” he said. “She was fan of doughnuts, but none of our recipes came from her.”
Her essence also appears in one more way. The name “sweet babies” are Tassone’s smallest product of doughnuts, which symbolize Ellie’s work as a neonatal unit nurse.
The doughnut truck: a love story
Tassone hadn’t dated anyone since the death of his first wife, but one day he was talking with a friend and realized that Amy, his future wife, wasn’t married like he first thought.
“I would always say, ‘I see a lot of pretty Franklin girls that were married from my stand,'” Tassone said. “I always assumed Amy was one of them.”
He had known her first as a customer when he began selling at the market. The two started dating after she volunteered at the Farmer’s Market and started helping with his booth, and they were engaged on Christmas of 2013.
“We’re not spring chickens,” Amy Tassone said. “It wasn’t a rush, and at this point in life, it’s been there, done that, and you just know. I hadn’t dated anybody in five years. I didn’t think I would end up marrying the doughnut guy.”
But marry him she did that following spring, on May 3, 2014, at Brentwood Baptist Church. Fittingly, hundreds of doughnuts were made up for their wedding reception at The Factory.
A traditional cake wasn’t even on their radar.