There is a new donut shop in Downtown El Cajon, but it is not selling just any donuts. These are the renowned Mary’s Donuts, originally from Santee, courtesy of the man who brought Mary’s to Lakeside several years ago: Joel Scalzitti.
The new store is located at 172 Main Street. Right around the corner from city and county offices, the business is also offering lunch to go, in the form of sandwiches named in honor of the East County courthouse.
The idea for another donut shop was far from Scalzitti’s thought when he looked into the vacant space on Main Street. He was running for mayor of El Cajon and needed a campaign office in the City. A friend had offered the site to rent, but as soon as he saw it, Scalzitti immediately had visions of something more – a new donut shop.
He was thinking of expanding his successful Lakeside donuts store but felt this part of Downtown El Cajon could use something more. The other restaurants on the block were more “sit-down” establishments, for folks with time to take a meal. Scalzitti thought to create a lunch spot to grab something good to eat “on-the-go,” for people with only a short lunch break, like city and county workers at the nearby county regional center, and even jurists assigned to the court. Though his quest to be mayor did not work out, the idea of a new business did come to fruition – and the Main Street Donuts and Deli was born.
Scalzitti realized one of his first hurdles would be the perception about parking – or lack thereof – in El Cajon’s Downtown. He pointed out that there are spots on the street in the morning, as well as parking in the alley behind the shop. For this reason, Scalzitti made sure the place had multiple accesses for the public, like a back door.
“It’s like home, coming through the back door” he said, “I want people to feel like they’re coming into their home.”
Parking and access are all good, but what keeps people coming back for more depends on just how good the food is. Scalzitti has worked hard on this, with support and ideas from friends in the business, to create some original and tasty sandwiches for his customers. He has five to choose from, all named with some legal tongue-in-cheek: The Jailbird, Sweet Sweet Justice, the Right to Remain Cilantro, the Judge, and the Misdemeanor (which you can turn into a felony with some spicy additions). Sandwiches will contain a half-pound of meat and specialty designed spreads, each costing just under $10.
Scalzitti is an energetic, friendly and busy man. Not only is he running the very popular and successful Mary’s Donut Shop in Lakeside, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Helix Water District and the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce. In fact, many of his Lakeside friends attended the grand opening on Saturday morning, April 13, including many Chamber team members and the young ladies of the Miss Lakeside Program. The Mayor of El Cajon, Bill Wells, was on scene to support Scalzitti. The speeches were short and the ribbon-cutting brief as the main reason for most in attendance was to partake of one of those famous Mary’s donuts. The line ran out the door and folks left with a smile on their face – or a donut in their mouth. But the biggest smile was on the face of Joel Scalzitti. Day One was a success, but Scalzitti was looking beyond the opening – way beyond.
“My goal is to be here a long time, like for 25 years,” he said.