It’s been all doughnuts, all the time at Michigan’s Best!
After eating them for more than four weeks in late September and all of October, our Michigan’s Best Team — that’s us, John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman — finally settled on our top picks.
The Top 13 rankings for Michigan’s Best Doughnut were published on Thursday, Oct. 29.
To come up with our top picks, we traveled to about 30 finalists that were nominated and voted on by you. On our journey, we traveled the entire state, from Houghton in the Upper Peninsula, to Union Pier in Southwest Michigan to North Branch in Michigan’s Thumb. No doughnut was left unsampled.
Here is a quick look back at the Top 13, as well as some special awards we handed out, followed by our remaining finalists.
Special thanks to Michigan’s Best Doughnut search sponsor, the Michigan Sugar Company, makers of Pioneer Sugar.
Michigan’s Best Doughnut: Our Essential Guide
Top 13 List – A Baker’s Dozen
1. Meyers’ Hometown Bakery & Beanery, Lake Odessa – A longtime favorite that offers a huge variety; they might have the best Apple Fritters in Michigan.
2. Butter Crust Bakery, Bridgeport – Ask for Yum Yums and Uglies; you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and Amy Sherman said they may make Michigan’s Best PB&J doughnut.
3. Sprinkles Donut Shop, Hudsonville – They make quantities of doughnuts for four locations in Michigan, but they’re still doing it all by hand.
4. Mac’s Meats & Country Roads Bakery, Rothbury – Huge doughnuts, and a massive cooler of 32-flavored brats make this a MUST. Get the custard long john the size of your arm.
5. Willie’s Donuts, Macomb – Owned by two bakers with more than 40 years baking experience; all deliciously homemade.
6. Sweetwater’s Donut Mill, Kalamazoo – A classic bakery that is known for humungous cinnamon rolls, novelty doughnuts and open 24 hours a day!
7. AVON Donuts, Pontiac – Gonzo said this may be Michigan’s Best Apple Fritter! Super dense, crispy and well done.
8. B&J’s Donuts, Flint – A doughnut shop in a Subway shop? It works. Everything is freshly made.
9. Huron Mountain Bakery, Marquette – A full-service bakery that just cranks out the U.P.’s best doughnuts and cakes.
10. Goober’s Bakery, Norton Shores – They make about 75 variety of doughnuts, as well as pasties and other goodies. Get the Half and Half – a cinnamon roll topped with half peanut butter and half chocolate.
11. DJ’s Bakery, Ann Arbor – Plenty experience here as the owners used to run bakeries in Dexter, Pinckney and Chelsea. In addition to great homemade fillings, we recommend the pretzel, and the ham & cheese breakfast sandwich in a pretzel bun. It’s life changing good!
12. North Branch Bakery, North Branch – A hidden gem in Michigan’s Thumb, they exude hometown pride, and make great doughnuts worth the drive.
13. Foundry Bakehouse & Deli, Albion – Family owned and operated in a small town with big dreams, this bakery hits all the marks, and our taste buds, with goodness in everything they do.
Emeritus – Hinkley Bakery, Jackson – Our winner for Michigan’s Best Doughnut in 2014 is still unmatched. Gonzo said is his “favorite of all time!”
Small Town Gem – Black Currant Bakehouse, Union Pier – Two owners who took a chance on moving to Michigan and starting a bakery from scratch, using scratch ingredients with no additives or preservatives.
Newcomer – Main Street Bakery, Hopkins – The mother and son team, along with an energetic crew, make this place one to watch.
Young Entrepreneur – Ignite Donuts, Mt. Pleasant – Don’t be surprised to see this recent CMU grad on TV’s “Shark Tank” selling his frozen doughnut holes and homemade dipping sauces to a national audience.
Most Inclusive – Groovy Donuts, East Lansing – This couple is not afraid to be whimsical, as well inclusive, selling vegan and gluten-friendly doughnuts that actually have tons of flavor. Great vibe, too.
Our Travels in Michigan. More great doughnuts!
Roy’s Pasties & Bakery
305 W Lakeshore Drive, Houghton, MI 49931
Roy’s Pasties & Bakery, Houghton
We first met owners Trisia and Roy Narhi in 2016 while spending a week in the Upper Peninsula doing what all Michiganders do in the U.P., taking in the natural beauty of Upper Michigan, and eating pasties! The husband and wife team make “a winning combination,” we said in our recap of Michigan’s Best Pasties. (They came in at No. 5.) “He bakes. She organizes the business.” It was great to see them again. They have a compelling love story. Each lost a spouse tragically and met in a support group in 2009. As their relationship blossomed, she helped him get better organized, trim costs and work on a business plan. He had struggled in a storefront, taking over a bakery he and his father opened in 2001. In 2013 they got married and held their reception at their current location, a standalone building (and the site of a former “junky welding shop”) that offers a great view of Portage Lake Lift Bridge, which joins Houghton and Hancock. Despite the pandemic, it’s “been a crazy busy year,” Roy Narhi said. In May, they made 4,100 pasties. In August, they sold 10,124 pasties. “We have never been busier than we are now. We are very grateful,” Trisia Narhi said. When we visited a few years ago, we wrote that the menu included homemade soups, pastries, sandwiches, artisan breads, great coffee, and even a nisu, which is a traditional Finnish cardamom bread. But we didn’t mention the doughnuts.
The Doughnuts: Get there early! Selections go quickly, despite making about 500 doughnuts a day. They include an assortment of fry cakes and yeast raised donuts, including filled donuts, Bismarks, apple fritters, Persians, cinnamon twists and more. They brought us some dunkers, which were covered in nuts and coconut, and very tasty, as well as fritters, which were crispy and stuffed with apple. We also recommend their version of the Cronut, which is croissant dough shaped into a ring, glazed and halved with buttercream in the middle. Fantastic! And those heavenly Persians with loads of cinnamon, topped with homemade buttercream, are a must. Don’t forget those delicious Finnish pasties.
Helmer House Inn – Bakery, Cafe, Mercantile, Bed & Breakfast
2747 County Road 377, McMillan, MI 49853
Hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; closed Sundays and Mondays
Helmer House Inn – Bakery, Cafe, Mercantile, Bed & Breakfast, McMillan
Helmer House Inn Bakery & Cafe in McMillan (near Manistique Lake in Luce County) was the poll winner in the Upper Peninsula, beating out the more established Huron Mountain Bakery in Marquette and Roy’s Pasties and Bakery in Houghton. It’s an impressive feat when you consider the historic landmark that dates back to 1891 only reopened in July. We didn’t get a chance to meet owner Kristen Handrich, a mom of eight, who was on a school field trip. But her mom, Denise Marcott, made sure to bring out doughnuts made from heirloom recipes passed down from generations. On a busy day, they will sell more than 250 doughnuts. “I’m sure to a bigger place it doesn’t sound like a lot, but for us and where we are, it’s a lot,” Marcott said. “They line up at 7 o’clock in the morning to get the doughnuts.” The cafe is also a bed and breakfast with six rooms, and Handrich is bringing back the mercantile. It plans to be open throughout the winter. “We are doing our best to work with our local farming friends to help support their businesses as well,” she said in an email. “We are bringing back the old-fashioned mercantile … attached to the same building. We wanted a place that reminded them of days gone by. The world is a hard place right now. Everyone seems to be having a tough time. And if our place can offer them a sense of calmness and happiness, then we have won.”
The Doughnuts: We sampled nine doughnuts, including their top-selling apple fritters, which are made with chunks of apple, homemade apple butter and apple cider. It’s a fry cake doughnut-turned-fritter. The exterior of each doughnut was super crispy with a nice crunch, and perfectly balanced interior. And they’re so huge. Handrich said in the email: “Our donuts are not fancy, we don’t use sprinkles. We don’t have a huge selection or elaborate fixings in them. They are old fashioned ‘fry cakes’ that my great grandma Genevieve used to make for her family. And so we hold onto tradition. The simple days. Back when there was a porch swing, and banging screen doors and homemade iced tea and lemonade. That’s what we are all about. Just family and friends and community.” That sums it up perfectly.
Muskegon and Lakeshore
820 Terrace, Muskegon, MI 49440
Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; closed Sundays and Mondays. (They also have a drive-thru window.)
Morat’s Bakery, Muskegon
Although they like to have fun and try new things – like the Pop Tart doughnut we tried on our search for Michigan’s Best Doughnut – Morat’s Bakery is a traditional bakery that dates back more than 70 years among three generations, according to co-owner Carollee Morat-Castle. The Morat name is well-known throughout Muskegon and Oceana counties, with bakeries located in many communities such as Hart, Scottville, Whitehall, Shelby and Reed City. In 2006, Morat-Castle and her husband, Dan Castle, who were living in the Metro Detroit area, moved back to the area to join the family business and raise a family of their own. In 2011, they branched out and opened Morat’s Bakery & Pub in New Era. In fact, they were on our search for Michigan’s Best Doughnut back in 2014. Eventually they closed that location and moved to downtown Muskegon in July of 2018, mainly because the city was eager to have a full-service bakery for residents.
The Doughnuts: Although the pandemic has changed their business a little, it still stays busy with a drive-thru and walk-in service. Morat’s remains a full-service retail and wholesale bakery, specializing in doughnuts, of course. They also offer a variety of breads, rolls, pies, scones, muffins, cookies, cakes and Danishes. Their popular English muffin bread ships all over the country. The top-selling doughnut? The apple fritter with maple and walnuts, followed by the Long Johns stuffed with a homemade Bavarian cream.
Delly Belly Bakery
288 Main St, Coopersville, MI 49404
Hours: 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; closed Sundays
Delly Belly Bakery, Coopersville
When we heard Delly Belly Bakery was nominated for Best Doughnut, we thought, “Is that a new place? We’ve never heard of it.” That made owners Connie and Greg Nieboer laugh a little bit. “We’ve been here the whole time!” he said. Make that nine years in the city of Coopersville, located midway between Grand Rapids and Muskegon off I-96. “We even won an award,” Nieboer said, pointing to the wall with a recognition plaque from Dawn Foods. As the story goes, the Nieboers had been in the NASCAR memorabilia business, and even had a couple store fronts in the area. But after an acquaintance decided to get out of the bakery business after only nine months, in a building they leased from the Nieboers, it was time to transition into a new career. “Then we looked at each other and said, ‘How do we make coffee?’” Connie Nieboer said. “It’s true. We didn’t know anything,” her husband added. “Luckily a couple people stayed on and showed us how to make doughnuts.” The journey has had its ups and downs, but the overall community support has kept the business alive. “This is a very tight-knit community. We know everything about each other. And we will always help each other no matter what,” said Connie Nieboer said, sitting next to her husband and regular “Tall” Paul Guinn, who stops in three times a day. “Oh, they have personality here,” Guinn said.
The Doughnuts: The apple fritters are the best sellers. They’re very traditional and best served crispy hot. What sets them apart from others, we asked? “We don’t know. We never worked at other bakeries or went to school,” Greg Nieboer said. The truth is, the original doughnut maker stayed on for a year and taught the family how to fry the doughnuts. Today, head baker Emma Drost, who does have a baking background, keeps on top of the schedule and quality control. She’s doing a great job. Other top sellers include the Bavarian Cream and Holland Cream long johns. They also make cherry, strawberry and blueberry fritters, too. Blueberry, which is now one of the more popular fritters, was a happy accident. They ran out of cherries, so they threw in some blueberries. “Everything is an accident here,” Connie Nieboer said. They do have fun!
Northern Lower Peninsula
Cops & Doughnuts
521 N McEwan St, Clare, MI 48617
Precincts in Gaylord, Bay City and Mt. Pleasant
Cops & Doughnuts, Clare
Cops & Doughnuts, Clare
The story never gets old. In 2009, Clare City Bakery, which was founded in 1896, was about to close its doors when nine local police officers came in and saved the day. It made international news and remains a big tourist destination to this day. We met up with Ryno (Greg Rynearson) and Bubba (Alan White), who spent some time with us, recapping the history and speaking with pride about how their decision has transformed the town. Today Clare is the Cops & Doughnuts “headquarters” and there are “precincts” located in Gaylord, Mt. Pleasant and Bay City. Bubba remembers the day they took over the bakery. It was July 1. That’s the same day Clare City Bakery opened in 1896. “We have a letter dated July 1, which says it was the day they opened the bakery,” Bubba said. “So when we took over it was purposely planned for that date.” Why was it called Clare “City” Bakery? “It’s funny,” Bubba added, “because there were literally tree stumps in the road.” Today, the tree stumps are done, of course, but Clare has taken on new life with Cops and Doughnuts becoming bigger than anyone ever imagined. Customers arrive daily from all over the state, and all over the country. On a busy Saturday, Cops and Doughnuts in Clare will sell about 750 dozen of just yeast-raised doughnuts! That’s impressive for a town of 3,000 people. It’s not uncommon to have 500,000 visitors a year, Ryno said. Did they ever imagine this? “No. We’re not that smart,” Bubba said. “We just wanted to save a little bakery.”
The Doughnuts: The must-have doughnut is the maple bacon “Bacon Squealer” long john, with two strips of quality bacon, but with no filling. It’s a novelty, but so good. We also loved the Driftwood long john, which won $10,000 on Food Network’s Doughnut Showdown in 2014. It has a coconut cream filling, and it is topped with toasted coconut chocolate ganache. It’s not a big seller, but the “people that like it, really like it,” Bubba said. We really LOVED it! The Peanut Butter Deputy doughnut is another favorite. It’s a long john filled with peanut butter cream and topped with peanuts and chocolate. It was inspired by a trip to the Mackinaw City Bakery, where it’s a local law enforcement favorite. “We call it the deputy because most sheriff’s deputies have light tan pants and dark chocolate brown shirt,” Bubba said. They offer many other doughnuts, too, such as cake and fritters, as well as breads and pastries, all homemade. The cafe also sells coffees, sandwiches and soups.
1903 S Mission St., Mt Pleasant, MI 48858
Hours: 5 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays
Robaire’s Bakery, Mt. Pleasant
Dina Desmores of Robaire’s Bakery in Mt. Pleasant springs out of bed each morning at 3:30 a.m. to keep the 50-plus year tradition of her bakery alive. “What else would I do?” said the 82-year-old baking dynamo, who works seven days a week. “It’s pretty awesome,” said employee Jessica Wiles, who has worked at Robaire’s for about two years. “She keeps you going. It’s empowering.” The iconic Robaire’s Bakery is known for its decorated cakes, cookies, doughnuts and dinner rolls. It was founded in 1961 and named after Desmores’ late husband, Robaire. She carries on his baking traditions with the same level of passion and commitment. To what does she credit the bakery’s success? “I’m here every day,” she said matter-of-factly. “When they see me here every day, maybe it gives (customers) confidence. I don’t know. And we’ve been here so long.” Originally from France, Desmores’ family emigrated to the United States in the early 1960s. They had the good fortune of getting help from an American pilot, who was shot down with his co-pilot in WWII and escaped the Germans by hiding out at her parents’ farm in Burgundy, France. Once her family arrived, Desmores followed not long after her husband returned from the Algerian War. He worked at Central Michigan University as a baker until he opened his own place.
The Doughnuts: The top-selling doughnuts include the nutty and chocolate-covered cake doughnuts, which are also Desmores’ favorites. They also do seasonal flavors like cider and pumpkin, as well as blueberry and cherry. Around Christmastime, fans ask for Red Velvet doughnuts. On a busy Friday or Saturday they sell about 100 dozen cake doughnuts, she said. The numbers increase when you factor in what she calls their “fancy doughnuts,” which means long johns, Bismarks, glazed, twists and others. Overall, they sell about 40 different types of doughnuts, including cinnamon rolls, fritters, raised doughnuts with a wide variety of different frostings, and made-from-scratch treats such as pastries, muffins, cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, breads, buns and more. They also provide local gas stations with doughnuts. You can also get a homemade sandwich and soup of the day at Robaire’s.
Almont Baking & Donut Co.
102 N Main St, Almont, MI 48003
Hours: 5 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays; 5 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 5 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays
More info: Facebook at facebook.com/AlmontPastryShop
Almont Baking & Donut Co., Almont
The Almont Baking & Donut Co., originally the Almont Pastry Shop, is now being run by a third-generation baker, Andrew Misajlovski, who is also vice president. This year they are celebrating 32 years, which is a big deal, especially in a small town. His dad, Steve, and grandparents (Helen and Rastko) emigrated from Yugoslavia and opened the bakery, which had been shut down for a few years, in 1988. Today, as his dad has stepped away from the business to do more charity work, Andrew Misajlovski’s job is to carry on a legacy built on hard work, quality doughnuts and a passion for pleasing customers. It’s working. How else do you explain how this little bakery in a village of less than 3,000 people could rally the community to vote it No. 1 in the region? It has become a destination of sorts, Misajlovski said. “We get people from all over, especially those heading up north in the summer or for deer hunting in the fall,” he said. (Almont is on M-53 as you’re headed north from Detroit’s northern suburbs.) “I also believe we’ve become a cornerstone of the community.” As a young businessman, he is moving the bakery into today’s marketing-savvy and social media world, rebranding it “to give it new blood.” Soon there will be a new sign and updates to the building. “We have a lot of good things in store,” he said. One thing that is constant at the bakery is his grandmother, Helen, who often comes in to help out behind the counter or make some occasional specialty products, like baklava. It’s a full-service bakery, he added. They do French bread, and artisanal small-batch breads, such as Challah and sour dough. But the star of the show remains doughnuts, pastries and cookies. Everything is scratch, small batch, handmade or artisan, “however you want to label it,” Misajlovski said.
The Doughnuts: The classics do well, as well as some newer items. “It’s kind of old-school, new-school here,” he said. “My philosophy is I want to stay true to the old-school doughnut shops with your Boston Creams, raspberry Bismarks and fritters. That’s what put us in business for 32 years. But I try to innovate and bring in new ideas and concepts.” We loved his passion, and his doughnuts, especially his version of a Cronut, that croissant-doughnut pastry invented in New York City. They have become very popular at his shop. We got to sample, among several other doughnuts, the Dulce De Leche Kronut, which was drenched in a Latin American inspired sweet milk-based caramel, and the Nutelle Kronut. Keep an eye on his Facebook page to see his latest creations.
1135 W. Bristol Rd., Flint, MI 48507
Hours: 4 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week
Donna’s Donuts, Flint
A longtime tradition, Donna’s Donuts has been around since 1962, and in that time it has set the trend for giving Flint what it wants – exceptional doughnuts with some that you can only find in Flint. The third-generation bakery is still cranking them out. Longtime manager Tony Melton talked to us about the Flint mainstay, started by the Gibbons family, while his crew kept the long lines moving and everyone in good spirits. We asked, what makes Donna’s doughnuts so special? Melton said: “We make them the more labor-intensive way; they’re handmade.” That means doughnuts are cut by hand, get proofed for the appropriate amount of time, and all the frostings are made in-house. “We do things much the same way they did in the ’60s,” he said. That explains why they sell up to 6,000 doughnuts on a busy Saturday.
The Doughnuts: It’s all about nutty doughnuts, Moonrocks and Date Squares at Donna’s. Yes, these are Flint-style doughnuts. “I think it’s an upper Midwest thing,” Melton said of the nutty’s popularity. In fact, if you eat a dozen nutty doughnuts (13, actually) in an hour, you get them for free, a T-shirt and your name on the wall. Only one person has done that, he said. Moonrocks are Apple Fritters, except these have raspberry in them. He said the name stuck because it coincided with man’s first landing on the moon. Deep-fried squares are filled with dates, which makes another novelty for the area. Cream sticks (long johns) are also top sellers.
Ann Arbor area
1305 Washtenaw Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Hours: 6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily
More info: Facebook at facebook.com/Dom-Bakeries-116166961738910/
Dom Bakeries, Ypsilanti
When you go to a bakery for doughnuts, you smile. It’s the excitement of it all. A special treat. Well, you will smile – a lot – at Dom Bakeries in Ypsilanti because the Chov family is always there, and their mission is to offer a huge variety of doughnuts (25-plus) and pastries, just for your enjoyment. We once again met co-owner Ly Chov, whom we first met in 2014 on our original search for Michigan’s Best Doughnut, and then reconnected with her in 2018 on the search for Michigan’s Best Bakery. On this visit we also met her youngest daughter, Alisha, and her son, Paul, who were both busy working the drive-thru window. Along with her husband/baker Fea Chov, the couple has owned Dom’s since 1996. They purchased it from David and Bronwyn Barricklow, who at one time had a total of nine Dom Bakeries around the Ann Arbor-Yspilanti area. Fea Chov gets up early to make the doughnuts; the family works hard all day to serve a steady stream of customers. It’s drive-thru only because the dining room is closed for now. Business has been steady, but they’re making fewer doughnuts because there are fewer students at nearby Eastern Michigan University, and they’re not doing any wholesale orders. But doughnuts are still in demand. “It’s crazy busy,” Paul Chov said. “We’ll sell several hundred dozen doughnuts on a busy Saturday. We’ll have seven full racks, and still sell out.”
The Doughnuts: Apple fritters, custard long johns and glazed doughnuts are popular at Dom. But, “really, everything,” Ly Chov said, noting that seasonal cookies and cake doughnuts such as pumpkin or apple crisp also sell well. We found the apple fritter to be our top choice with a lot of extra apple and extra cinnamon, all made from scratch and rolled out by hand. No cutting corners. Even the custard is made in-house. “That’s why people love it,” she said. “Everything is homemade.”
Dutch Girl Donuts
19000 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48203
Hours: 24-hours a day during the week, through 6 p.m. Saturday and closed on Sunday.
More info: Facebook at facebook.com/Dutch-Girl-Donuts-180655755313096
Dutch Girl Donuts, Detroit
There is so much to love about Dutch Girl Donuts. No frills. No hoops. No fancy schmancy. Located on famed Woodward Avenue just south of 7 Mile Road, the Detroit doughnut landmark has been a destination since 1947 when it was opened by John Timmer and wife, Cecelia, who is responsible for the Dutch Girl name. Before COVID-19 shut it down for several months this summer (finally reopening in early September), legions of fans stopped by all hours of the day, and night. Normally it was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Today fans have returned steadily.
The Doughnuts: As we said, it’s straight-up good at Dutch Girl. The glazed doughnuts (their top sellers) start in the mixers, which you can see through the windows, then move to the deep fryer, then to the racks behind the counter and into your belly. They just melt in your mouth.
The Looney Baker
13931 Farmington Rd, Livonia, MI 48154
Hours: 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 5 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Monday. Drive-thru and carry out.
More info: facebook.com/The-Looney-Baker-260807407191/
The Looney Baker, Livonia
We met owner Greg Dean in 2014 on our first search for Michigan’s Best Doughnut, and this time around when we stopped in to visit him, we discovered it was pretty much business as usual. “It’s been the same deal here forever and ever,” he said, standing in the parking lot. “People ask us why I don’t change stuff. ‘When are you going to do this or that?’ and I say, ‘because it just works.’” Dean started working at The Looney Baker in high school, then returned in 2005 to buy the business from a father and son team that had opened it in 1986. It’s constantly busy. Before the pandemic, it was open 24 hours a day with a dine-in area where locals stopped in for coffee talk. “This has been the most challenging year for me, personally,” Dean said. “I miss all the guys that used to come and the conversation across the counter.” The dine-in area is closed for now, but customers still come indoors to place an order or use the drive-thru window. He has a couple outdoor patio tables where it’s not uncommon to see some of the regulars.
The Doughnuts: They make a lot of doughnuts! On a busy Saturday, which is their busiest day of the week, they will sell 400 dozen doughnuts. Apple fritters and cinnamon rolls are the top seller. But, in all honesty, it’s all about the Looney Bread, which sells out every day. It’s best described as a great breakfast bread, loaded with raisins, cinnamon, walnuts and then glazed. Even though it’s not his top seller, “it’s the thing that people seem to go craziest about,” Dean said. “It’s one of those things where we can’t make a little extra because it comes in batches. People get upset with us when we’re out of it.” It’s the overall freshness of the doughnuts that put The Looney Baker on the map, he said. “When we run out of something, we’re done for the day!”
Marge’s Donut Den
1751 28th St SW, Wyoming, MI 49519
Hours: 4 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday
Marge’s Donut Den, Grand Rapids
“Institution,” “beloved,” “iconic” are just some of the words used to describe West Michigan’s Marge Wilson, who, as a single mom 45 years ago, took a chance on opening a bakery on 28th Street in Wyoming. Over the decades, it has grown in popularity and prestige as legions of fans have gathered here on special days, like National Doughnut Day, or just any day of the week. It also has grown in size, expanding into two next-door buildings to host more visitors, art displays and her many plaques and awards for community involvement. “I also needed the parking,” she said. “And I still need more parking.” Wilson gets in at 3 a.m. on many days of the week to make sure orders are filled. “It’s no big deal,” she said of getting up early. “If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be in a bakery. The hours are not the choicest.” Wilson, who turns 81 at Christmastime, said she is “older than Moses,” but plans to keep making the doughnuts, cakes, pastries and other treats with her crew of about 30 dedicated employees. Her thoughts on her success? “I never would have dreamed” of this popularity, said Wilson, who worked as a bank teller before launching her current career. “I never knew that doughnuts were so popular. When I worked at the bank, the only time we had doughnuts was on a Friday morning. I didn’t know doughnuts are a seven-day-a-week treat.” Why did she get into the business? “Beats me,” she said. “I was a single parent and thought I could spend more time with my kids. I was wrong. Dead wrong. My kids spent more time with me!”
The Doughnuts: We tried several doughnuts, including the top sellers like the custard long johns and apple fritters, and Bismarks of all kinds. All were, indeed, fresh, as well light and airy. Today she makes more than 70 varieties of doughnuts. She opens at 4 a.m. on most days. She sells about 5,000 doughnuts a day on a busy Friday and Saturday. Her motto when it comes to finding a decent doughnut? Eat them fresh. “We try to talk people out of buying doughnuts at night,” she said. “Make sure to come in the morning because that’s when they’re really fresh. A good doughnut only has about a 24-hour shelf life. A lot of people eat them. But that’s not my recommendation,” she said.
2040 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Hours: 5 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; closed Sundays and Mondays (extending hours until 4 p.m. for two weeks beginning Oct. 28; follow Facebook for updates)
More info: Facebook at facebook.com/SandysDonutsGR
Sandy’s Donuts, Grand Rapids
Sandy’s owner Anita Hoezee and her business partner, Mike Hoezee, have owned the bakery since 2003, carrying on a tradition that dates back to 1971 when Dream Donuts occupied the building on Grand Rapids’ West Side. The bakery was named after the original owner’s daughter, Sandy, who was Anita’s classmate in Hudsonville. “Oddly enough, she was never involved with the bakery,” she said. Over the years it has remained a true community spot, even though the early days of the pandemic looked a little different than normal. That didn’t stop longtime customers from showing up in the parking lot with lawn chairs, even though they were shut down for five weeks. “It’s such a cool location,” Anita Hoezee said about being on the West Side. “People are just amazing here. They come in and say, ‘We’re so thankful you’re here.’ They are warm people; they take ownership and care for their neighbors. They show their love very openly.” Today, the bakery remains as busy as always with a steady stream of customers looking for its variety of traditional cake, yeast-raised and even novelty doughnuts.
The Doughnuts: Like many popular bakeries, Sandy’s serves the classics, as well as more creative doughnuts. “We cater to what people are looking for,” she said. “They want things to be consistent, and available. But we see a lot of people looking for fun…. And doughnuts are an easy way to do that.” We tried plenty of their favorites, including custard long johns, apple fritters and old-fashioned buttermilk cakes. But we also loved that creativity did not give way to quality. What’s not to love about a Cookie Monster doughnut or a raised doughnut topped with chocolate icing, peanut butter cream and a peanut butter cup? We also were intrigued by one local favorite, the “cannonball bomb,” which is a dense little ball of moist cake stuffed with a creamy vanilla-flavored filling. Try that sugar buzz. We also recommend the Yum Yum, which is a chocolate swirled roll that gets deep fried and topped with chocolate. It lives up to its name.
Follow our Michigan’s Best adventures on social media:
@mlivemibest on Twitter
@mlivemibest on Instagram
Facebook at MLiveMIBest.
Join in by using the hashtags #mibest and #BestDoughnut
MORE MICHIGAN’S BEST DOUGHNUT STORIES
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.