From Pizza to Doughnuts
By Riley Bunch | Photography by Steven J. Pallone
As Rich Lickfield stood back and looked at the doughnut machine he’d hooked up in his home, propped atop of his washer and dryer, he wondered what was wrong with it. It wasn’t making doughnuts.
“So, we are reading the directions, trying to make doughnuts, and they were just terrible. They weren’t even doughnuts. They were like balls,” Rich laughed as he thought back. “We figured it was the machine. It wasn’t the machine. It was us.”
For two years prior, the longtime pizza stand owner watched from his spot in the Central New York Regional Market to see if anyone was going to rent the empty Paine Family doughnut stand at the market. Not long after, Rich and his high school sweetheart and wife, Sue, made the bold decision to ditch the pizza business and fill the gap in the doughnut market.
The Lickfield’s leap of faith paid off. After gathering the necessary equipment and many hours of testing doughnut recipes, the doughnut stand proved to be more popular than the pizza stand ever was. In the first five years of selling doughnuts at the market, they sold more than half a million doughnuts to eager customers waiting in lines up to 30 people deep.
“Every single year since we’ve been selling doughnuts, we sell more and more at the market,” Rich said. “However, at the market, you are at the mercy of the weather. So, in the winter time, it’s freezing. We have to use the coffee water to get it hot enough to make the doughnuts.”
Five years later, Mike Smith, Rich’s good friend who owns Wizards Pinball, invited Rich to check out properties Mike was considering for a new pinball arcade. The small space they visited at 207 Oswego St. in Liverpool wasn’t right for pinball, but proved perfect for the expansion of the doughnut business.
Now selling seven days a week, Rich and Sue operate the Regional Donut Authority shop in Liverpool, easily distinguishable by a bright purple door and black and white checkered walls. Inside, old records dangle from the ceiling, while customers are welcomed with songs like “Mr. Sandman” playing over the radio and a large sign that reads, “Have a hot donut and smile.”
Unconventional doughnuts line the glass case at the front of the bakery. On slow days, Rich spends his time inventing new flavor combinations, trying to top his former creations, like Sticky Bun doughnuts with honey glaze; Pebbles and Bam Bam, featuring fruity pebbles; S’mores with blow-torched marshmallows; and the Wild Samoa, modeled from the popular Girl Scout cookie. One of his favorites, rightfully named the Syracuse Orange, is decorated with one-of-a-kind orange candies, made by Speech Family Candy company exclusively for Regional Donut Authority.
“I’m always combining different things and trying things out,” Rich said.
Now, after 16 months in business, Regional Donut Authority caters to both its loyal customers from the market and new customers drawn by its growing social media presence. To meet the demand for pizza at the market, their son, Rich, opened his own pizza stand. Their son, Logan, helps with the doughnut stand on the weekends, and daughter, Amanda, helps promote the new shop through social media.
Sue, who works in catering at Syracuse University, has been with Rich through all their culinary businesses, from their first hot dog cart at Williams Beach in Cicero to their new donut shop in Liverpool.
“It’s been a long time,” Sue said. After years of various food ventures, the Lickfields have finally found a business that fits the family perfectly. SWM
Regional Donut Authority is located at 207 Oswego St. in Liverpool. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends. For more information, visit donutauthority.com.