The lights never seem to go off at Dino's Donuts on Old Seward Highway and 81st Avenue. And that's a good thing for baker Tammy Santiago.
"Sleep is not in my vocabulary," said the 32-year-old mother of two.
It's midnight at the doughnut bakery, and she's as vibrant as if it was a sunny afternoon.
Each night she, David Briggs, 33, and Mark Ince, 22, cut, proof, fry and finish thousands of doughnuts so that by 4 a.m. they can be distributed to offices, classrooms and construction sites.
Briggs takes an early shift and is the first one to arrive. He makes the cake doughnuts. Ince arrives and goes home sometime in the middle. Santiago is the last one to leave -- she provides the final touches, placing doughnuts in a display case and packing others in boxes.
They're a ragamuffin team with flour covering their aprons. The banter between them resembles a sibling rivalry more often than not. And much like they work together to complete a doughnut, they also finish each other's sentences.
Ince quietly encouraged Briggs to watch where he was putting the doughnuts as he topped them with maple, chocolate, vanilla and blueberry frosting.
"Yeah, I'm about to have an OCD moment," Santiago stated boldly. "It's going to mess up my whole system.
"You see, I have this very lackadaisical attitude," Briggs said as he placed a maple-covered doughnut next to a berry one. "I don't care which tray they go on."
Santiago chimed in, "Because you don't have to pack them and ..."
"... because I don't see where they are going," Briggs concluded.
Briggs and Santiago are the talkers of the group. They argue about radio stations and such. Santiago remembers a heated conversation over whether Kid Rock sang "American Bad Ass" or not. Santiago won that argument; Briggs doesn't want to talk about it.
Ince is youngest but acts as the older-brother type. He watches the issues build and uses his quiet, insightful nature to calm the storm.
Santiago mentions that has cooked the crew dinner for the past two months.
"What she does is she cooks for her kids and then brings us the leftovers," Briggs said.
"No. Mark says they aren't leftovers because they are from the same night!" Santiago concluded.
The crew admits that they are like kids when they enter the kitchen.
"(Owner Jeanine Keppel) is really cool, and she puts up with our little attitudes," Briggs said. "If she didn't ... well, Mark might still be here (but we wouldn't)."
Anchorage freelance journalist Rosey Robards can be reached at email@example.com.
The Dino's Donut crew
Who: Tammy Santiago, 32, baker; David Briggs, 33, cake donut baker; Mark Ince, 22, donut fryer.
Location: Dino's Donuts (929 E. 81st Ave., No. 101, 562-3466)
Credentials: Briggs and Santiago learned to make doughnuts at Dino's, and Ince spent a year working in a Carrs/Safeway bakery before Dino's.
Signature donut: The Dino Bone is a dog-bone-shaped doughnut. Owner Jeanine Keppel used to have a dog named Dino.
Favorite donuts: "I don't eat doughnuts," Ince said. When Briggs started he was told he could eat as many as he wanted. He used to chow down, but that didn't last long. "I can't even smell them anymore!" he said.
Favorite meal from another restaurant: Briggs and Santiago like to eat at Outback Steakhouse, and Briggs and Ince are fond of Golden Corral.