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Kristi Kates - July 19th, 2010
Johan’s:A New Look for an Old Favorite
By Kristie Kates
New cathedral ceilings, bright and airy surroundings, more indoor seating, air conditioning, and outdoor patio tables are just a few of the offerings at the brand-new Johan’s location in Harbor Springs. Locals and visitors alike had been keeping an eye on the bakery’s remodel for the past several months, as the old Johan’s building was transformed into a gleaming new Johan’s worthy of their legendary donuts and other “must-have” baked goods.
“Even though the previous building was quaint, the new customers are in awe of the new store and all it has to offer,” says Johan’s Harbor Springs manager Kathy King.

“We had repeat problems with our Harbor Springs store due to the fact that the building was from the late 1800s and had begun to rot, wasn’t energy-efficient, and wasn’t laid out to handle the large number of loyal customers that continue to patronize our store on their visits North,” explains King. “We attempted to get quotes to patch certain repairs, but soon realized that the whole building needed to be renovated. The new store is beautiful, well laid out with the customer’s needs and service in mind.”
Local Harbor Springs architect Dan Gorman and builder Tom Mough (of Northern Michigan Construction) tore down the old building on September 22 of 2009, and the new Johan’s was completed and ready to be opened on President’s Weekend of this year. But there was no down time in between; donuts, of course, don’t take vacations.
“We had temporary digs right next door during construction,” King says, “we never missed one day of business.”

Johan’s, which was established by the Kilwins back in 1958 at their Johan’s Main Store (across from Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey), still makes all of their products, except for the bagels, at the main location, distributing them to various wholesale accounts and the other three satellite store locations, including the Harbor Springs one.
“Our bagels, however, are made at the bagel store, Johan’s Bagel and Grill, which is located in the Clock Tower Plaza on M-119,” King explains, “then the bagels are distributed as our donuts are.”
Current Johan’s owner Clayton Brown has owned the business for 22 years; as the fourth owner of Johan’s, he purchased the store when he had no previous baking experience, but was simply looking for a business to run. Brown convinced the previous owners to consider him when they were ready to retire, and eventually the business was his. The rest? Local bakery history.
A little someone named George is another long-time Johan’s associate - George, of course, being the bakery’s mascot, a 40-year-old parrot, who was included in the deal along with Brown’s purchase of the business.
“Everyone loves George,” King laughs, “and many of our customers make a special stop to visit him and indulge in their favorite donut as they arrive in town for their vacations. George even has a new “condo” himself, thanks to the many nice donations from our loyal customers.”

In addition to their famed, often oversized donuts and decadent pastry selections, the new Johan’s in Harbor Springs will be offering a wider menu that makes them a great stop for everything from a donut snack to breakfast, lunch, a light dinner, or even a birthday party.
“We will be serving bagel breakfast sandwiches, homemade soups, chicken salad, and other grab-and-go type selections,” King explains, “we will also have birthday cakes available as well as homemade cheesecakes. Otherwise, customers may special-order anything they’d like, and have it sent to the Harbor store location for pickup.”
Another change at the Harbor Springs location - which used to traditionally close early in the afternoon, meaning that local donut aficionados would have to rush over to snag their favorite donut before Johan’s closed their doors for the day - is a change in hours, which King says is unprecedented.
“Our hours will actually be extended soon,” she explains, “7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. - which we have never before offered at this store location.”
That small change will likely be welcomed by the returning summer visitors, as well as the locals who rely on Johan’s for their daily coffee and a donut. King says she appreciates everyone who frequents the cafe.
“I have worked for Johan’s for nine years, and greatly enjoy our regular customers as well as the annual vacationers as they return each season,” she says, “it’s fun to see them, and to watch their donut selections change from year to year. Our customers visit from all over the country to enjoy their favorite Johan’s pastry, and it has become part of their tradition when visiting on vacation in beautiful Northern Michigan.”

Johan’s of Harbor Springs is located diagonally across from the Post Office downtown at 138 West Third Street, telephone 231-526-0907. Other Johan’s locations may be found at 156 W. Mitchell (Main Store 231-347-3815), on M-119 at the Clock Tower Plaza (Bagel and Grill 231-439-0746) in Petoskey and in Boyne City at 110 S. Lake Street (Johan’s Pastry Shop 231-582-6093). All stores are open year-round, seven days a week.

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