In a small block building, which is now part of Dockside Fish Market, Merieta lovingly made all of her donuts by hand, mixing dough in a plastic bowl. Not long after, the business was moved into Joynes' Bargain Barn, on a bit of land which has since turned into a parking lot. The front counter held three bowls of donuts: plain, sugared and cinnamon-sugared.
Merieta would rise early in the morning to make donuts. During the day, when Merieta went to work her full-time, department store job, one of her friends would come in to sell the donuts she made that morning. In 1975, the Grand Marais Donut Shop saw significant success, and our “GrammaRita” was able to quit her minimum wage day job and make donuts full-time in the summer.
Donuts became the love and livelihood of our family. They gave us joy. They filled us up when our taste buds needed a treat. They helped us celebrate special events. And, they allowed our family to thrive in our small community – and they still do today.
Over the years, as Merieta's granddaughters, Stacey and Dee, learned how to count change, the pair started selling the donuts. There was no cash register then – we used a tackle box that was kept under the counter. The business grew steadily each year. In 1977, Merieta moved into her own, new building on 10 East Wisconsin Street and changed the name to World’s Best Donuts – coined by our customers, some who have been with us since the very beginning.
With this new space, Merieta and her family added new items including Long Johns, raised donuts, Bismarks, and our own famous Skizzle! At that time, Merieta's daughters, Sherrie and Donnie, joined the business. In 1987, an oven was purchased and our red-and-white, old-fashioned coffee room was added. It allowed us to add indoor seating and display the pictures that our customers send us from all over the world – ones of them traveling with Donut Shop coffee mugs. Today, we have pictures of our mug visiting almost every state in the U.S. and many foreign countries. Our World’s Best Donuts cup has even flown on the Concord!
It wasn't too long before Merieta’s son-in-law Chet was also working in the kitchen. His favorite donut to decorate was the raised donut with frosting, which he named “Chet's Best.” As the business grew so did Merieta's 5-generation donut family. When the great-grandchildren were old enough, they started to work at the shop too. That’s the reason the paper towel holder in the coffee room was always so low – it was used by the 4- and 5-year-olds when they did their first job of cleaning the tables!
Today . . .
World's Best Donuts Today
Starting in 2002, the third generation of our donut family, Stacey and Dee, took over the day-to-day operation of the shop.
This allowed “GrammaRita,” age 79, to finally enjoy a summer in Grand Marais without having to get up in the early morning! However, just because she was not the first one to unlock the door in the morning doesn’t mean she was any less involved in the business. She still came in on a regular basis to set batches of dough, cut Skizzles, or help with clean-up at the end of the day. She was who we turned to first for advice and when we wanted to try something new. She passed away in 2008, and we miss her every day.
Today, we strive to continue to run our business the way we were taught by “GrammaRita.” We’re sure she is keeping a watchful eye on how we're doing!
Many of our customers are summer visitors, and our business continues to grow as we make new friends. People return year-after-year not only because we serve the World's Best Donuts – but also because they like our friendly, personal atmosphere.
After working here since she was young, Dee is now sole owner of World's Best Donuts, working alongside 4th generation Kyler Hawsen, who hopes to keep the Donut Shop in the family for years to come. Kyler worked here as a young teen and is now back as the father of the 5th generation. Please stop in and say “hi” to the 3rd and 4th generations working our shop – and you might even see the 5th generation hanging around and eating treats.
We are proud of the way our business has grown and of the reputation we’ve developed. Not only do we want to make sure that you get your order just the way you want it – we want you to know that we appreciate your business. We want your visit to our shop to be one of your special memories of your visit to Grand Marais. Thank you, so much, for your continued patronage. We look forward to your next visit!