Night life

Max Santiago Opening Max’d Out Donuts in North Miami Beach

Max Santiago, Miami’s doughnut king, is returning to Miami to open a new doughnut shop.

The shop, called Max’d Out Donuts, will open in the first quarter of 2022 at the Biscayne Commons shopping center in North Miami Beach.

Best known for his time at the Salty Donut (now the Salty), Santiago has nearly three decades of pastry experience under his belt. Most recently, he opened Batch, the Cookie Company in Fort Lauderdale; he has helped to open doughnut shops around the world and has worked with Canadian chain Tim Hortons on new flavors.

With all of his sweet successes, Santiago’s goal was to always open a doughnut shop in Miami. “I’ve opened doughnut shops all over the world as a consultant, but my dream is to be the big doughnut guy in the big city,” says Santiago, adding that he chose the North Miami Beach location to straddle the county line, owing to the Fort Lauderdale following Batch has attracted. “This is the furthest north I can make it and still be in the 305,” he quips.

He enlisted the help of partners Roy Casiano and Enrique Santiago (who happens to be the baker’s brother) to make his sweet dreams come true.

Santiago, who has created outrageous doughnut flavors in the past, wants to focus on classic doughnuts at Max’d Out. “We’re not going to do a bunch of crazy, over-the-top doughnuts here. They’re going to be the flavors you loved growing up. The classics made with quality ingredients.”

The years spent consulting on doughnut shops have helped his baking skill set. “I’ve discovered new ingredients in my travels and my dough recipe is better than it’s ever been,” he says.

The menu will offer over a dozen different items each day, including ten classic doughnuts, a cruller, and a coffee roll (think cinnamon roll with coffee flavoring). “No one does a coffee roll any more,” he laments, musing that he’s thinking of turning the pastry into a “cafe con leche” roll.

Other staples include a cake old-fashioned doughnut with a buttermilk glaze, a Boston cream, and an apple fritter with a brown-butter glaze and a hint of salt. Santiago plans to have several vegan selections on the menu and to introduce a new doughnut flavor weekly so regulars always have something new to discover.

“I want this to be a neighborhood doughnut shop,” he says.

Max’d Out will serve coffee from Great Circle Coffee Roasters, a fourth-generation business based in Miami. “Their family owns a coffee plantation in Guatemala and they source the best beans,” says Santiago, adding that only a few select establishments — like Zak the Baker and Sullivan Street Bakery — use their coffees. He’ll buy his jams and fruit from local vendors in Homestead. “I’ll do everything I can to support local people,” he promises.

The shop will have a 70s vibe with a large banquette in yellows and browns. “The yellow says sunshine to me and the brown — well, that reminds me of a delicious, baked doughnut,” Santiago says. Local artist Surge designed the logo based on one of Santiago’s doughnuts.

Santiago says that this project feels like his most personal to date, and, in some respects, the most challenging, not least because of the ongoing pandemic.

“We’re scrambling for equipment to come in and it’s taking forever. Some of the lead times are four to six months and items have tripled in price.” Despite the additional expense, the shop is a labor of love for him and his two partners. “This is the most involved I’ve ever been with an opening and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he says.

He also wants Max’d Out to be a place where people want to work. “My staff comes first,” he says. “If you’re not taking care of your staff, you won’t have success.”

On that score, he believes four elements are key to keeping employees satisfied. First, pay well and give incentives. Then, make the workplace a happy place to come to, provide the proper tools and equipment, and, finally offer free parking. “It sounds like the silliest thing, but paying to park your car can really bite into someone’s paycheck,” he notes.

Then he adds a fifth component: allowing employees to learn and grow.

“It’s so much fun for me to teach someone baking,” he says. “It makes it exciting for me, again.”

Max’d Out Donuts.14777 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami Beach; @maxdoutdonuts. Opening early 2022.

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