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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Liberation Donuts Brings Vegan Donuts To Upton’s Breakroom In West Town

For every purchase of the shop's "Total Liberation" donut, the company will donate 50 percent of proceeds to an animal-focused nonprofit.

Liberation Donuts opened inside Upton's Naturals in West Town.
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WEST TOWN — West Town residents have a new neighborhood sweet shop where they can stock up on vegan donuts — and help animals while doing it.

Liberation Donuts opened this month inside Upton’s Breakroom, 2054 W. Grand Ave. The donut shop is owned by Upton’s, a wholesale vegan food company with manufacturing headquartered at 1826 N. Lorel Ave. in Austin.

Adding sweet grab-and-go items to an otherwise savory wholesale-focused menu was always part of Upton’s dream, company’s Vice President Nicole Sopko said.

And so far, neighbors — even those who aren’t vegan — have loved the new venture.

“We’ve always had a really strong connection with the neighborhood,” Sopko said. “A lot of people come in just because we’re one of the neighborhood places. They’re not necessarily vegan, or even vegetarian. … Now we’re the donut shop in the neighborhood, so that’s great.”  

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The “For Greta” is one of 12 flavors at Liberation Donuts in West Town.

Upton’s hired Cody DeFrate, a baker with experience making vegan donuts. DeFrate’s menu includes classic flavors as well as unique combinations. “It’s Me Sesame” combines chocolate and tahini, while the “Firestorm” combines chocolate glaze with cinnamon and chili powder.

Some flavors have sentimental meanings, Sopko said.

“For Greta” — vanilla with strawberry and soy cream — is named for a 14-year-old German shepherd belonging to Dan Staackmann, Upton’s founder, who is also Sopko’s partner.

“Flapjack” — maple syrup and chocolate crumb — is named for the dog Upton’s owners rescued last year from outside Upton’s Austin-based manufacturing site.

RELATED: Sweet, Stray Dog With Broken Jaw Gets Rescued — And A Serious Makeover — By Vegan Food Company

Credit: Instagram: @bakeanddestroy

The shop’s namesake “Total Liberation” donut is a lemon poppyseed combo. For every purchase of this donut, the company will donate 50 percent of proceeds to an animal-focused nonprofit.

Beneficiaries will rotate monthly; this month sales benefit The Catcade while next month sales will benefit One Tail At A Time.

When Upton’s moved its manufacturing to Austin, a large part of the West Town building was left vacant. Opening Liberation Donuts helped fill that space, Sopko said. Not having to “open from scratch” in this way during the coronavirus pandemic was helpful, she said.

But opening a new businesses during the pandemic wasn’t without its challenges.

“Opening during COVID is really unique because, ordinarily if we were opening a business we’d have a grand opening, sell $1 donuts. … But we didn’t wanna do anything that would potentially attract a line,” she said. “We haven’t really done that stuff.”

Liberation Donuts prices range from $3.25-$3.75. A baker’s dozen is $36. View the menu here.

Liberation Donuts is open 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. (or until the shop sells out.) Reach Liberation Donuts by calling 312-872-7938. Follow the shop on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

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Liberation Donuts opened inside Upton’s Naturals in West Town.

Liberation Donuts’ opening coincided somewhat with the closing of Nature Yoga Sanctuary, which had been in Wicker Park for 16 years. Sopko owned the studio for the last four years and closed this summer due to coronavirus.

Though the physical studio has closed, Sopko is continuing her teacher training program virtually. The fall session begins next month.

RELATED: Nature Yoga Sanctuary Closes Wicker Park Studio After 16 Years, But Virtual Training Will Continue

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Liberation Donuts, inside Upton’s Naturals in West Town, has 12 flavors of vegan donuts.
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The “balaclava” is one of 12 flavors at Liberation Donuts in West Town.
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