On Monday, District Doughnut, which opened its first location on Barracks Row in 2014 and operated a stand at Nationals Park for the past three seasons, made Harper one of his biggest offers yet.
“Hey @Bharper3407 we will give you unlimited doughnuts for life AND make a custom flavor for you if you stay with the @Nationals!” District Doughnut tweeted.
The following day, the company shared a photo of doughnuts decorated with Harper’s name and his number 34, along with a love note to the free agent outfielder that appealed to his D.C. roots.
@Chef_Christine made these for you today. We are #MadeInDC just like you and we would love to keep it that way. Our offer still stands: doughnuts for life if you stay with the @Nationals!
“I see so much commonality in how he approaches the game and how we approach things from a small business and entrepreneurial standpoint,” District Doughnut co-founder and CEO Greg Menna said of Harper in a phone interview. "He goes hard at everything he does, he gives everything he has, and we love that. . . . We know he loves doughnuts, we know he loves District Doughnut, and we would’ve felt remiss if we didn’t try to do what little part we could in chiming in to get him to stay.”
District Doughnut, which will open its newest location at Ballston Quarter in about six weeks, isn’t the only business laying things — namely, frosting — on thick in an effort to sweeten the odds of Harper signing a long-term deal. On Jan. 15, John Colosi, the owner of Frangelli’s Bakery in Philadelphia, made a similar offer.
“Free pastries for life,” Colosi tweeted at the sweet-toothed Harper. “1 mile from Citizens Bank Park. I’ll deliver them.”
“I don’t know if he read it or not,” Colosi said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It was between Philadelphia and San Francisco at the time. Now they’re saying the Dodgers are in the mix. Nobody really knows, I guess, but if he came to Philly, I would give them to him. I’d follow through. Definitely.”
Colosi, who bought Frangelli’s in 2010 and still serves as its lead baker, touted his bakery’s Frannoli — a doughnut that’s cut in half and stuffed with cannoli filling — and mom-and-pop nature since the original Frangelli’s opened in 1947.
“We’ve had a lot of positive reviews for it,” Colosi said of the shop’s doughnut-cannoli hybrid. “We do everything from scratch. If you want a jelly doughnut, we’ll fill them to order right in front of you by hand.”
Colosi declined to offer a prediction for where Harper signs, but the lifelong Philadelphia sports fan said he wouldn’t consider the Phillies’ offseason a failure if the team doesn’t sign Harper after already missing out on this year’s second-biggest free agent, Manny Machado.
“We gotta see what happens, but I don’t think it’s Harper or bust,” Colosi said. “[Angels outfielder Mike] Trout will be a free agent in two years and he’s a local guy from Millville, New Jersey. I guess if we don’t sign Harper, hopefully we’ll get him.”
It’s unclear if pastries will appeal to Trout, but Harper is a documented doughnut lover. He visited District Doughnut in 2016 and celebrated National Doughnut Day with a trip to another local chain, Sugar Shack, the year before.
Meanwhile, the Adventure Park, a zip line and aerial course in Sandy Spring, Md., on Tuesday offered Harper two lifetime passes and to host the outfielder’s “Harper’s Heroes” program for an annual event if he re-signs with the Nationals.
Harper’s other standing offers, in addition to the 10-year deals he’s reportedly discussed with several teams, include free bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches for life from Bethesda Bagels, two lifetime passes to the Media (Pa.) Film Festival and “hot dog performance bonuses” from an amateur baseball team in Minnesota. No wonder this process is taking so long.
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