FORT MYERS, Fla. –In 2008, during one of the worst recessions in Southwest Florida, a former local morning disc jockey Bob Grissinger, aka C. David Bennett, took a chance on opening a donut and coffee shop in downtown Fort Myers. A decade later that gamble has proven to be a good bet.
“As we celebrate our 10thanniversary we are so very thankful and humbled by the Southwest Florida community for supporting us,” said Grissinger. “We are proof that small, locally owned businesses can be successful, contributing members to our local economy.”
Grissinger opened the shop located off West First Street at 2011 Bayside Parkway, in a 2,000 square foot lovingly restored 1943 former home with partners Roger Munro, Frank Albano and Anne Munro.
Today the company has 16 employees and has sold more than 60,000 pounds of coffee and 1.8 million donuts over the past decade.
To celebrate 10 years, Bennett’s is planning some free giveaways, the unveiling of a new anniversary donut and a 10thanniversary special blend of coffee all month long.
Just like Bennett’s quaint little shop, it’s what’s on the inside that counts with their new Decadent Decade Donut. The donut starts with fresh yeast that after being allowed to rise for 90 minutes is cooked til light and fluffy. It is then robustly filled with both fresh blackberry and cream fillings and finished off with a fine sugar dust. According to Grissinger, each donut takes two hours to make.
“Our little downtown shop isn’t fancy or flashy,” said Grissinger. “You might even miss us and drive by; but once you walk inside you see that we are special. We don’t use typical ingredients you’ll find at national chains. We start preparing at midnight to make our fresh from scratch donuts and house roasted coffees.”
In addition to the Decadent Decade Donut, Bennett’s will offer a free Bennett’s travel mug to the first 100 customers on Thursday, February 8. During the month of February, they will also be offering a special 10thanniversary blend containing some of the best, most expensive coffees in the world.
“I like that they aren’t thick cake-based donuts, they are yeast raised from scratch and very light and fluffy. I could eat six and I would only feel like I ate one,” said Fort Myers resident and long-time Bennett’s patron Nicole Mazzola.
Over the past decade, Grissinger and his team have had a lot of fun offering unique items and even getting some national attention for their unconventional creations.
To celebrate National Coffee Day in 2009, they roasted and served a limited amount of the world famous kopi luwak coffee, otherwise known as “coffee poo coffee”. The coffee back then cost $190 a pound. Bennett’s sold samples for $10 and sold out by 9 a.m
“I can’t live without Bennett’s coffee; I’m probably at Bennett’s seven days per week and I average more than one trip per day,” said longtime Bennett’s customer and Fort Myers resident Phil Gaylor. “I enjoy the taste and the convenient location of Bob’s shop. I am addicted and through the years I’ve made acquaintances who drive a few times a week from Punta Gorda while they are visiting during the winter months.”
In 2013, Grissinger and Bennett’s baker Lisa Bronchetti competed against other donut experts in Donut Showdown premiering in the U.S. on the Cooking Channel. The episode that Grissinger and Bronchetti were featured in was called “Carnival” and showed them making a Honey-Berry-Mascarpone donut; a fluffy Bennett’s doughnut covered in mascarpone icing, topped with three types of berries and then drizzled in honey. Grissinger was one of 42 fiercely competitive donut pros from across North America featured on the show. The show will have an encore airing of Grissinger and Bronchetti’s showdown on the Cooking Channel on February 16 at 8 a.m.
“Everything is homemade and that’s really hard to find anymore,” said Cape Coral resident Bronchetti, who has worked with Grissinger for the past 9 years. “It’s nice to work for someone that has such high standards for quality and customer service. And the customers are so wonderful. I’ve gotten to know so many of them and seeing them again and again in the shop is just fabulous.”
Bennett’s is known as the premier in-shop coffee roaster in Southwest Florida. They skillfully roast their coffee in micro batches as soon as the day before it’s ground, brewed and served, avoiding off flavors like bitterness and rancidity so often present in coffee roasted by less experienced roasters.
In addition to fresh roasted coffee and hand-cut-from-scratch donuts, Bennett’s also offers fresh desserts from Grissinger’s own recipe book including praline bread pudding and lemon bars, giving area residents an alternative for afternoon treats. It also features packaged whole bean or ground coffees, breakfast muffins, oatmeal and breakfast sandwiches. On the weekends, Bennett’s Strata (a layered baked breakfast dish) is a regular sellout. Tea lovers may choose from a large variety of Harney & Sons Fine Teas. Lunch offerings, including paninis, soups, sandwiches, three signature salads and Bennett’s ‘Lobster Roll’, ‘Chicken & Donut’ and ‘Donut Dog,’ are available Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Bennett’s is open Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, visit www.BennettsFreshRoast.com.