The sign may say “Poston’s Donuts,” but that’s at least two owners ago. The storefront at 2131 S 34th Street in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, is now Hana’s Donuts, and Hana Simcak’s unique handiwork is expanding.
The front case is stocked with dozens of pastries. Everything from donut holes to apple fritters, sprinkled cake donuts to chocolate-filled bear claws. Simcak waits to add filling to the filled pastries until someone orders one (custom donuts for all). A coffee machine and drink cooler accompany the two tables in the small shop. Most people get boxes to go, but a few regulars stay for coffee and conversation.Simcak’s husband arrives early to make the bases for the cake donuts and a few other pastries. Hana comes in to decorate to the cake donuts and fill out the rest of the case. On Tuesdays, she runs the counter and talks with everyone that comes in, about her apple fritters (the most popular item on the menu), local politics, and what she’s thinking of making next. She said those ideas are “sleeping in my head.”
She came to the United States from the Czech Republic in January 1997. She remembers distinctly it was January because it was her first taste of the unpredictable Midwestern weather. “It was nice—like spring nice, but then a week later it was brutal.”
Simcak intended to stay in America for only six months, but, as she said, “life happened.” She got married, took English classes at Johnson County Community College, and ended up helping clean a donut shop while pregnant with her first child. The main donut maker at that shop unexpectedly quit and the owner asked Simcak to help make donuts. After a few years learning the trade, Simcak noticed the former Poston’s shop up for sale and bought it in March 2012. She’s been ramping up business ever since.
Simcak makes deliveries to coffee shops around town, including Oddly Correct, Quay Coffee, One More Cup, Post Coffee Company and Pour Coffeehouse, when she’s not running the counter. When she’s done with deliveries, she sometimes donates boxes to the Salvation Army and local churches. Once those donations are done, she’s in the kitchen, experimenting with new flavors.
Pumpkin donuts are the seasonal flavor now, and they’re not the usual pumpkin donut. “I use my own spice, not that premade stuff. I don’t like pumpkin-spice stuff,” Simcak explained to Sheri Lynn, a regular from Kansas City, Kansas.
“It’s the best I’ve ever had,” Lynn said. “It’s subtle, it’s not overpowering.” Lynn said she considers Hana’s the best donut shop in town. She left with three pumpkin donuts and some apple fritters for her husband.
Her latest flavor will be a lemon-rosemary donut, an idea from a cookie bought on a whim. Simcak would love to allocate even more time to new ideas, but her time is limited. “I don’t mind the 60 hours a week,” Simcak said, “but 60 hours is 60 hours.” A carrot cake donut and chai donut are the next recipes sleeping in her head.
She got the chance to try out some unique recipes for the Thirsty Thursday – Donuts for Dinner event Boulevard Brewery hosted last month. Simcak made over 350 lemon-rosemary, s’more, and cherry cream cheese donuts for the event.
Even though the past few years have been occasionally tough, Simcak loves serving Kansas City. Her regulars are fiercely loyal and coffee shops from Lee’s Summit to Midtown enjoy the homemade flair of her work. Even three and a half years later, she’s still getting discovered by new customers every day.
“I like the people here. They’re laid back. They care when they need to care and they’re not nosy,” Simcak said. She has plans of expansion, cakes, a full bakery, more employees, and even an updated sign, but for now she’s happy to continue where she is. “If you want to do something, you put your heart to it!”
Hana’s Donuts is open 6 a.m. to 12 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.