Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dough Worth Every Penny

Holt’s Do-Nuts on Main Street sell out before 9am daily for decades. Find out what makes the sweet treats such a landmark in Grandview.
By Paul Thompson
On a rainy Thursday morning in Grandview, while some are just beginning to get out of bed, it’s a different scene at Holt’s Do-Nuts on Main Street. This is the peak of the day at the landmark shop, where the donuts are often completely sold out by 9am.
Regular customers sit at one of two small tables in the shop, making chit-chat. The old-fashioned push button cash register clicks and clacks in the background, easily filling any voids in conversation. Self-serve coffee can be found in the corner, an ode to the days before cookie-cutter coffee shops ruled the morning beverage landscape. On the east wall, a menu is cleanly laid out on a chalk board. Customers scan seafoam-green trays for their made-from-scratch favorites.  Custard-filled long johns. Devil’s food cake donuts with chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles. And of course, the Holt’s glazed donut.
“The warm glazed doughnuts are simply the best you will find anywhere,” said Grandview local Monica Hernandez, who added that the blueberry cake donuts also top her favorites list.
“I raised my kids in Grandview,” said Holt’s customer Sandy McCrory emphatically. “I tell everybody, if you’ve never had Holt’s, you need to have Holt’s.”
Crystal Richardson pops into Holt’s, crossing her fingers that she’ll be able to get a cherry frosted donut for her young daughter. Now past 8:30, it’s a bit late for requests. But fortunately for Crystal (and her daughter), there is still one left.
“We don’t get donuts too often, but when we do we come here,” she said.
James Harris—a Holt’s regular--walks in. It’s closing in on 9 a.m. now, and he’s well past his usual arrival time of about 7:30. Generally, James gets two glazed donuts every morning. But on this day, he knows that it’s too late for him to grab Holt’s most popular donuts.
“I’m way late this morning,” says Harris somewhat sheepishly, with the clock showing almost 9 a.m. “It was raining so I was sleeping in.”
Asked if he would ever consider going anyplace else, Harris is quick with a response.
“Only if Holt’s wasn’t here,” he says.
At Holt’s, 9 a.m. doesn’t represent the beginning of the day. It’s closer to the end. Current owner Geeta Mehta arrives at the Main Street shop at 11:00 p.m. on most nights. She turns on the fryers, makes the dough and icing, and prepares to have those batches of delectable Holt’s Do-Nuts ready for consumption by about 5:30 to 6:30 every morning.
If 5:30 sounds a bit early, then you probably have never been to Holt’s. This donut shop is unique from many others in that they have flexible hours of operation. In other words, Holt’s Do-Nuts closes for the day whenever they sell their last donut. Their steady stream of regular customers helps ensure that closing time is never too late in the morning.
That’s how it’s always been at the shop, opened by Clyde Holt in 1970. When Clyde passed away, his son Brian operated the shop until March 2008, when he sold the business to Justin Wells and Randy Ebert. Wells and Ebert re-sold Holt’s in November 2008 to Tom Morris, who ran the shop until selling to Mehta in September of 2010. Through it all, several things have remained unchanged. The name has always stayed Holt’s. The interior feels like a step back into the 1970s. The donuts are made by Holt’s same special recipe. And there are even many of the same customers as there were in Clyde’s days.
Those regular customers are what makes Holt’s what it is. Geeta, who moved to the United States from India more than 25 years ago, bought the shop last September as a small business to run with her daughter Rachna. The two had a lot to learn about the donut business.
“We were looking for a small business, something family-oriented that we could all do together,” said Rachna about taking over Holt’s. “We didn’t know how to make donuts before we bought the shop.”
There were some struggles as Geeta learned the craft from previous owner Tom Morris. She began watching Morris prepare the donuts at night. The family admits to having to throw out a significant quantity of batches as they learned the trade. But the regulars stayed loyal. Now, Geeta and Rachna feel tight-knit with many of their customers.
“I have the same people come every day. It’s nice to see, feels like family,” Geeta says of her clientele. “We miss them if they don’t show up.”
The feelings are mutual. Some of Holt’s longtime customers have been getting their donuts from the shop for 30 years. The quality of the donuts keeps them coming back. And that doesn’t just go for long-time fans still living in the Grandview area.
“There’s people that actually come in, visiting relations in this area, and they make a point to come to this donut shop,” said Richard, a regular Holt’s customer who drives in from Belton. “That oughta tell you something.”
Fellow regular John Shelton agrees.
“It’s amazing how many people live here, move away, and then come back here to get donuts,” says Shelton.
When people come back to Holt’s, it’s clear that most know exactly what they are looking for when they come in. For Richard, it’s the butter crunch and cinnamon donuts. For fellow regular John Shelton, it’s the buttermilk donuts. And of course, there is also a certain amount of camaraderie among the regulars.
“There’s a little group that’s usually here in the morning, and we solve the world’s problems,” says Richard with a smile.
More regulars stop by the shop. Larry Pridemore is here to grab a long john. He’s lived in Grandview for 32 years, and has been a customer ever since.
“I can’t imagine a situation of us not having a donut shop like this in Grandview,” Pridemore says before taking his grub for the road.
Geeta and Rachna have been impressed with the customer base that they’ve maintained despite ownership turnover. Rachna says that seeing those regulars daily has now become a part of the routine that she looks forward to. That was something that former owner Morris appreciated as well.
“I love the people that came in there. What made it great was the people,” said the father-of-three Morris. “Obviously, they love the donuts. But it’s not just about that.”
It’s also about loyalty to Grandview’s only donut shop. It’s about friends spending a little time together. It’s about maintaining tradition. But, sure, it’s definitely about the donuts.
“I think it’s neat and I’m glad it’s still here. I’ve known you fifteen years,” Richard said, turning to friend and fellow regular John. “That’s kind of the neat thing about coming up here and visiting. But the main draw is the donuts. If they didn’t have good donuts I wouldn’t come.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Holt’s Do-Nuts is tucked into a small corner shop off Main Street in Grandview, across from City Hall. The shop is open Tuesday - Sunday from 5:30am until they sell out. Holt’s is closed on Mondays.

No comments:

Post a Comment