Serious about sugar? Tim Smith has your flavor.
Smith’s new venture, Serious Donut Company, features just about every donut flavor under the sun: caramel espresso, orange, and bacon maple settle alongside traditional crullers, long johns, and bismarks.
Close to retirement, the trained engineer says now is the perfect time to transition to a new business.
“If I waited any longer, I wouldn’t do it,” he said.
Serious Donut Company occupies a small space in a strip mall on Garfield just north of South Airport Rd., across from Copper Falls Steakhouse.
The interior is bright and welcoming, but the big attraction is the display case behind the front counter.
Those who need a jolt of java to go with their donuts can choose from five urns for self-service. Prices and flavors are posted on the display board to the right.
Then there’s the helpful, friendly staff, always ready with much-needed recommendations.
Smith said that while his location might be a bit off the beaten path, he isn’t worried.
“We’re set back from the road and a little hard to see,” he said. “But after they find us I’m confident they’ll come back.”
Name a donut, and you’re likely to find it at the Serious Donut Company.
Glazed? Check. Chocolate? Ditto. Orange? Bismark? Long john? All accounted for – with some intriguing variations.
Start with the names. All the donuts are given some sort of Traverse City or Northern Michigan connection.
Boardman Tubers are glazed donuts.
There’s also Cherry Capital Cinnamon Rolls, Old Town Sour Cream, Kingsley Kriss Kross, Rapid City French Crullers … the list goes on and on.
The flavors are limited only by the imagination. Staff and customers alike are welcome to suggest additional varieties.
Coffees include European roast, medium roast, Kona, Michigan cherry, and decaf.
Among the most popular of the Serious Donuts is the Northport Nauti, lovingly dubbed Death By Chocolate by the staff. This long john is filled with either Holland cream (the white stuff) or custard (the yellow stuff).
Smith says the custard variety typically sells far more than the Holland cream, though the latter is his preference.
Another favorite is the Open Space Orange Juice Donut. It’s made with orange juice in the batter, and topped with a tangy orange glaze or icing.
The newest entry takes the concept of coffee and a donut to a new level. The Glen Arbor Espresso adds espresso to the chocolate filling, giving it a kick rivaled only by the Glen Haven Caramel Espresso Macchiato.
Front of the house manager Katie Ritchey says it’s quickly become not only her favorite but a trendy pick of patrons.
“I decided coffee and donuts go together, so we needed a coffee donut,” said Ritchey. “I love them.”
The biggest flavor gamble is also a best seller: The shop’s Mackinaw Bacon Maple Long John is just exactly what it sounds like. The maple-flavored long john is indeed topped with a strip of bacon, melding smoky, sweet, and savory in each bite.
THE REST OF THE STORY
In addition to its delectable baked treats, the Serious Donut Company staff tries to go the extra mile in serving customers. That’s resulted in extended evening hours from 8pm-midnight Wednesday through Sunday.
Staff member Herb Larrance says that with the nearly round-the-clock staffing for waiting on customers, baking, and cleaning, they figured they might as well sell some donuts if someone’s there, regardless of the posted hours.
“I’m in at 4 or 4:30am, and people knock on the door. Third shifters are getting out of work,” he said.
Smith says the concept was to provide Traverse City with an independent donut shop where he and the staff could create donuts based on what customers wanted rather than what a corporation determined.
He works with bakery supplier Dawn Food Products, Inc. out of Jackson, which he says has been extraordinarily helpful.
“They’re a national company and make suggestions based on their experience,” he said.
But that experience only goes so far. “A lot of what we’ve done has proved the experts wrong,” he said. “Traverse City has some unique tastes.”
As an example he says the weekend crowd is different from the weekday crowd. “Weekends have more kids, and they love sprinkles,” he said.
Donuts start at 80 cents for the North Star and go up from there. Coffee starts at $1.19.
Serious Donut Company is open Mon., Wed., Thurs. from 6am-3pm; closed Tuesdays. Friday and Saturday the shop is open from 6am-4pm and Sundays from 8am- 2pm. Late hours from 8pm-midnight are Wednesdays through Sundays only.
The store is located at 1779A S. Garfield Ave. For more, call (231) 943-1372; online go to seriousdonutco.com or visit its Facebook page.