Ladybird Diner owner keeping busy with doughnuts while restaurant is closed

Lawrence, apparently, is a town that loves its doughnuts. It's a love that, when said doughnuts are offered up for free on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon at the now-closed Pachamamas patio, reaches biblical proportions.

"It was like a plague of locusts," Ladybird Diner owner Meg Heriford tells two women approaching her makeshift doughnut-giveaway area. Other doughnut seekers follow, and Heriford has to break the news to them, too: "Sorry, they're all gone."

Less than 30 minutes after announcing via Twitter that she would be giving away doughnuts "all you can carry" to anyone, all 400 of Heriford's colorful confections had been snatched up, leaving only crumbs on the sidewalk as proof of their existence.

None by Ladybird Diner

Ladybird Diner was forced to close after a March 3 fire at its neighbor Bigg's on Mass. Since then, crews have been working to remove smoke damage and replace interior furnishings.

Luckily for foodies, Heriford has spent that time "fine-tuning" her menu, and has rented out Pachamamas to use as a test kitchen for the newest addition to Ladybird: doughnuts.

Heriford is taking an optimistic approach to the fire fallout, saying it has given her time to figure out how many doughnuts she'll need to churn out in order to keep up with demand when her restaurant opens back up later this summer. She declined to give a specific date, though she expects it to happen by the time college students are back in town.

She's kept her hand in the Lawrence dining scene during the interim period, selling Ladybird pies at The Bourgeois Pig for about a month earlier this summer, and also delivering doughnuts to local nonprofit organizations via her "doughnut mobile" in honor of National Doughnut Day on June 5.

In the meantime, Heriford said there will be more doughnut giveaways in the future.

None by Ladybird Diner

Her lemon-filled doughnuts were a hit at Tuesday's event, which Heriford described as a dress rehearsal for when the doughnuts' debut at Ladybird. Other flavors leaned toward the traditional (chocolate cake doughnuts, coconut, peanut butter, and several varieties of old-fashioned, from vanilla to blackberry to salted caramel) while some were more wacky.

The "Triple-Decker Birthday" variety, for example, entailed three doughnuts stacked on top of each other — Heriford particularly enjoyed watching people figure out how to eat that one.

"We've got a good idea of what it'll take to produce a case full of doughnuts," Heriford says. "But I think pie will always be the star of the show. Pie is what we do."

According to Twitter, another doughnut giveaway may be in the works soon. Watch Ladybird's Twitter and Facebook for updates.

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