“More than anything, we’re here for the beignets.”
–Arlton Cangelosi, Mr. A’s Beignets food truck owner
by Mimi Montgomery
photograph by Ray Black III
If your February plans don’t include a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, you can laissez les bons temps rouler at home with a bite of one of Arlton Cangelosi’s beignets and a sip of his chicory coffee.
The New Orleans native learned beignet-making at 18, when he was hired to manage a New Orleans beignet franchise, French Market Doughnuts. The pastries are a Louisiana staple, made with deep-fried choux pastry (a lighter-than-dough paste made of water, sugar, butter, and eggs), then covered in sugar and served hot for breakfast or as a treat.
Cangelosi, who now lives in Apex, serves his hot from his Mr. A’s Beignets food truck, which can usually be found at 400 N. Salem St. in Apex, and at food truck rodeos, festivals, and Carolina RailHawks games. Cangelosi and his wife moved from the Big Easy to North Carolina 18 years ago. After retiring from a long postal service career, he figured it was time for another gig. “My wife told me I couldn’t sit at home,” he says with a laugh. He wanted to serve classic New Orleans cuisine in his adopted state, and beignets were the obvious choice. In December 2015, his food truck was born.
“I’m glad I went with my choice,” he says. “I get to see people smile all day when they’ve never had a beignet before and they’re trying it for the first time.”
Cangelosi has plenty of regular customers who come by daily for fresh beignets and chicory coffee – he estimates he sells about 900 pastries a week. That’s a big number considering Cangelosi makes each one himself, by hand. He knows he could save time and churn out more if he did it with a machine, but he won’t sacrifice quality. To him, it’s not about the money – it’s about the people and the experience. “I wanted it to be more personal,” he says. “I don’t want it to be work – I had a job. If you don’t enjoy it, it’s not fun.”
Customers are greeted by name, and Cangelosi doesn’t have employees, just family members and friends who work next to him in the truck. “We hang out,” he says happily, stirring beignets simmering in oil. “This is the one job where you get to play with food.”
Wednesday – Friday 7 a.m. – 12 noon, Saturday 8 a.m. – 12 noon; truck usually found at 400 N. Salem St., Apex; squaredoughnuts.com