July 15 — Open & Shut is an ongoing series examining the rise and fall of business in South Central Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in this area, please send a note to reporter Alex DeMarban (firstname.lastname@example.org) with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.
Jason’s Donuts: A family of four — Jason Carlson, Andrea Koski, and their adult children Usina and Kirin Carlson — moved to the former Fairbanks in 2016 after Carlson was laid off as a contractor. started this business selling donuts at his doorstep.
Six years later, they closed their beloved Fairbanks store and reopened a fully family-owned donut shop in Eagle River in late June.
Carlson’s hand-cut New York-style donuts are fluffy and large, much larger than many store-bought pastries. That’s what customers comment on most, said his wife Koski, adding that customers are also obsessed with flavor and texture.
Other specialties include chocolate cake donuts. Apple fritters with fresh Granny Smith apples. Danish cheese stuffed with cheesecake. A huge maple glaze cinnamon roll topped with bacon. There are many varieties, such as blueberry glaze donuts topped with pop tarts.
And the custom-made Denali donuts. The 3 1/2-pound servings serve up to 12 people and can be customized with fillings, glazes and toppings “to your liking,” Usinia said.
Kosky said Carlson first learned to make donuts while working at a store in Buffalo, New York, where he started as a janitor. He’s always loved cooking and baking, she said, and it snowballed from there.
“He treats this like art,” Koski said. “There’s a lot of love put into this donut. A lot of love and passion.”
Every day at 4pm, Carlson starts making over 100 pounds of dough for the next morning’s batch. Usinia said he puts as much energy into making donuts as any other baker he’s ever hired.
“When Jason does it, nothing is timed,” says Kosky. “Measure with your heart,” Ucinia interrupted.
“It’s all based on visual, touching the fabric. Is the fabric stiff enough to start stretching? There are a lot of different factors,” Kosky said.
Carlson’s son usually arrives later in the day to make the glaze from scratch and hand-glaze the donuts. The shop is then handed over to Koski and his daughter Usinia at 4am, who open at 5am.
The sell-out shop at 12801 Old Glenn Highway opens at 5am Wednesday through Sunday. Since its soft opening in June, it has sold out in just three to four hours for several days.
“Whoever gets up early gets the donuts,” Koski said.
Sushi motto: The owner of the long-established downtown sushi restaurant, Kumagoro, has opened a new sushi restaurant in the Spenard district with a special focus on shabu-shabu, or hot pot. Located on the site of Peter’s Sushi Spot, which closed in April.
Sushi Motto is a family-owned venture of Jennifer Choi and her husband Steve Lee, who acquired Kumagoro in 2019. Choi has worked in the city’s restaurant industry for years, and for about 13 years she has worked as a clerk at Sushi Ya.
Choi said Anchorage has plenty of sushi restaurants, but not many serve her favorite dish, shabu-shabu. She wanted to offer her community another version of the food that grew up in Jilin, China.
“Every time I go to China, I eat shabu-shabu every day. Maybe twice a day. I love shabu-shabu,” she said.
Choi said that Sushi Motto’s shabu-shabu is more like the Japanese version. “We can’t do exactly the same thing as in China, because we don’t have a lot of vegetables and sauces here,” she said.
A communal hotpot is brought to the table, where piping hot homemade beef bone broth is poured. Raw ingredients such as thin slices of beef or lamb, tofu, enoki mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy and noodles are then added and cooked at the table.
“You can really feel it’s a traditional flavor. It’s not like powdered soup,” said general manager Christina Pearce. “We use real bone marrow, so you can taste all the goodness of the beef,” she says.
The turnkey restaurant space also had a sushi bar. Choi’s husband, Lee, is the restaurant’s chef and serves his own creation of sushi rolls. His favorite is the spicier roll, stuffed with crabmeat and shrimp tempura, and heaped with mixed poke, cucumber, tobiko, and radish. Orange His Blossom His roll has spicy salmon on the inside and spicy tuna on the outside, drizzled with Choi’s signature sauce.
Sushi Motto had a soft opening on July 7th. The menu is still in flux and will likely add more shabu-shabu styles besides beef soup, Pearce said.
The restaurant offers a variety of other dishes such as chicken teriyaki, katsu, and yakisoba.
The restaurant at 3020 Minnesota Drive is open seven days a week from noon to 9pm and is closed on Tuesdays.
Two Hands Fresh Corn Dogs: A Korean-style corn dog franchise has found a home in Anchorage’s Dimond Center food court. Restaurateurs Ken Kim and Jin Park opened the store in late April in response to the long lines of customers waiting to try the street food that has exploded on social media in recent years. .
These dogs come with options. Customers choose ingredients such as sausage, beef, spicy beef, plant-based sausage and mozzarella cheese.
You can also choose the style. There are classic dogs, sweet and savory Korean corn dogs. The other is covered with crispy puffed rice.
Park’s recommendation is a spicy dog or a potato dog. The first is covered in Hot Cheetos Powder and Two Hands Spicy Sauce. The latter is smothered in crispy fries and served with a two-handed dirty sauce that resembles sriracha mayonnaise.
Two Hands is Kim’s sixth venture as co-owner and president of restaurant management group Topex Company, which operates three TopBap stores. After Park joined as vice president last year, he opened two more restaurants, Ghost Kitchen and Eat’alia.
Park and Kim spotted the Korean corn dog trend while traveling out of state and noticed the surge in popularity of fusion cuisine. Based in Los Angeles, Two Hands has dozens of locations across the United States, with the Diamond Center Restaurant being its only location in Alaska.
“We thought Anchorage needed more than just restaurants. Lower 48 is growing into something more generic,” said co-owner Park. “Our key is to provide Alaska with a variety of options.”
[Open & Shut: Anchorage gets a chocolate tasting room, a reimagined Turkish restaurant and 2 gift stores]
Siam, Thailand: A popular Thai restaurant on Spenard Road and Royce Drive closed permanently this month. A sign on the door said it was closed “for retirement.”
The sign reads, “Thank you very much for your support over the past 13 years.”
MVP Sports Deli & Eatery: This sub-sandwich restaurant on Tudor Road will be closing next month for early retirement, according to a message on its website from owners Kevin Held and Jenna Held.
“It has been an honor to serve you all over the last 10 years. We invite you to choose MVP to be part of your dining experience and to share our unique homemade recipes with you here in Anchorage, Alaska. Thank you for giving me the privilege to do so,” they said in a message. “May the ‘Level of Flavor’ that you helped create remain in you forever, as it is in us. Dear friends, you will be very lonely.”
This east-facing spot is a local favourite, known for its Italian pastrami “cheesesteak” sandwiches made with homemade pastrami and white cheddar cheese sauce topped with fresh Italian relish.
The Daily News dining columnist wrote in 2016: “With lovingly prepared ingredients, high quality ingredients and beautifully balanced combinations, MVP Sports Deli’s sandwiches are my go-to. is the closest thing to subscribing to an Italian deli I grew up eating in New York, New Jersey.”
Owners announced that MVP Sports Deli will close on August 12th.
David’s Bridal: Anchorage’s largest wedding dress retailer, David’s Bridal, is closing. The last day the store will be open to the public is Tuesday, July 18, an employee said.
The Pennsylvania-based chain filed for bankruptcy in April, warning it would likely close many of its roughly 300 stores nationwide and lay off more than 9,000 employees. A bankruptcy sale agreement, which was approved by the court earlier this month, would keep some stores open, but was not expected to affect the closure of the Anchorage store.