Donuts Go Gourmet plus a Q&A with Jordan Cash, Cartems Donuterie

Cartems. Photos by Deanna Ladret

I’m standing inside Cartems Donuterie on another rainy day in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. There’s not much to the tiny place, save for the scent of deep-fried deliciousness and an assortment of fresh donuts sitting on cooling racks in varying quantities atop an antique sideboard framed in glass. With dozens of donuts baked 3-4x daily in a commercial kitchen a few blocks away, the Cartems truck is always busy making pit stops at their debut pop-up location.


A man pokes his head in the door, looking more than a little down on his luck. He starts the sad and all-too-familiar spiel, “I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t have any––” and is quickly cut off by proprietor Jordan Cash, who interrupts with a friendly “Hey man, how about some taste tests? Come on in, let me know what you think!”


Cutting up a Sweet Heat donut, Cash passes the plate to the man, who settles on a good-sized piece and then passes it around to the rest of the customers in the tiny shop. This come-one-come-all attitude is part of what makes Cartems so unique – the atmosphere of an inclusive, neighbourhood small business not unlike a 100 square foot Cheers-esque joint where the bartender strikes up chit-chat with anyone and everyone.


Oh, there’s the donuts too. So far, Cartems features eleven varieties, including Earl Grey, Maple Bourbon Bacon, Carrot Cake, and of course, Original Glazed. There is also a gluten-free donut and a vegan chocolate donut. Orders can be placed online, and donuts are delivered for free by bicycle within the ‘delivery zone’. Tempting, although it might be most prudent to sprint there and back, as you’ll no doubt polish off 3 or 4 donuts at a time. The premium local ingredients distinguish Cartems quality and help to justify the price ($3 each). Anita’s Organic Flour, butter from Golden Ears Cheeseworks, milk from Birchwood Dairy, and spices from Gathering Place Trading Company are examples of their sources.


Some eyebrows were raised at mention of the donuterie’s location, sitting at a sort of crossroads between Gastown and the rougher blocks of the DTES. A number of new businesses have popped up over the past few years, drawing fresh economic activity to the area previously reigned by pawn shops, SRO hotels and dive bars. The location of Cartems began as a “pop-up” on a limited lease, but Cash and his partners/chefs Mark Tagulao and Rajesh Narine are thinking about the possibility of putting down roots at the Hastings & Carrall storefront. In the meantime, cue round-the-corner queues and pass the donuts!


Q&A with Jordan Cash, proprietor Jordan Cash of  Cartems Donuterie


When are you going to send your bicycle delivery people to Vancouver Island? (just kidding.) But seriously, do you have any plans to open up a shop here? You’d clean up.


We do have plans for Vancouver Island! In fact, we have some friends there (The London Chef – Daniel and Micayla Hayes) and they said they have a fantastic location for us in mind. Truthfully, as soon as we get our first proper location up and running here in Gastown, Victoria would be in our sites for sure.


When you don’t sell out, what happens to your leftover donuts at the end of the day?


We donate the donuts to the New Fountain Shelter, which is a few blocks away. In addition, we are in the midst of setting up a voucher program with the Pigeon Park bank whereby we issue them 100 vouchers a month that they can then distribute to their customers at their discretion. Those customers can then come in for half price donuts between 2 and 3pm, which is when our final run of donuts is made and delivered fresh.


Besides the masses of foodies migrating to your storefront, how do you feel your business has been received by DTES residents?


Overall it has been positive. The truth is, you’re never going to please everyone and I think that the best we can do is be cognizant of where we are and do our best to coexist in the neighbourhood. Thus far I’m happy with how we’ve been received overall.


Approximately how many donuts do you personally eat on a daily basis?


This might scare you…I would say between 3 and 5.




Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-3pm or whenever they sell out; Saturday 11am-3pm

Cartems Donuterie Pop-Up Shop

408 Carrall Street (at Hastings)

Vancouver, BC

(604) 671-6015




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