Sit For A Dunker, Stay For The Wash At The Donut Shop
In tiny Tupper Lake, N.Y., a tourist destination in the Adirondacks, the Donut Shop serves up more than just donuts.
The Donut Shop also a laundromat, with a store selling knick knacks and souvenirs on the side. Co-owner Tina Merrihew says it's a winning combination.
"About 25 years ago, we bought it, and after cleaning out, we realized we had a lot of space in here, so we added the store," Merrihew says.
Locals and out-of-towners can come in with their dirty clothes and sit for a while with a coffee and watch it spin.
"It's sort of a weird combination," Merrihew says. "But you know, actually, it works really well. People come in — you know how everyone loves to do laundry, so the donuts and coffee helps out, and they can do a little shopping."
The shop makes old fashioned donuts with thin batter dropped from the hopper into the fry pan. The best-seller: bacon donuts.
"That's real bacon that's mixed in with the maple frosting," Merrihew says. "Oh, it's excellent. Some people hesitate about it, but overall people are, 'Oh, let's try it,' and then they come back for more."
For a while, the Donut Shop had some name-brand competition, she says.
"We had Dunkin' Donuts here, but we must've scared them off," she says. "I always tell everyone, we must have knocked them out of business."
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Summer is a season to take it easy - maybe abandon the hot stove, let other people do the cooking. So this summer, we thought we'd check out a few local delicacies served and celebrated around the country. Today, we head to Tupper Lake, nestled way up north in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state. We're going to visit a little place on Main Street.
(SOUNDBITE OF WASHERS AND DRYERS)
WERTHEIMER: If that sounds like a laundromat, that's because it is. It's also a place where you can buy knick knacks and souvenirs, but tourists and locals really stand in line for this.
BECKY SUTTER: (Laughter) Let me get a maple, a blueberry, a cinnamon.
TOMMY MCGOWIN: I really like the maple because it actually tastes like maple syrup.
ESTHER COX: So they're, like, cake-y (ph). I like them 'cause they're not really heavy. Just a little bit of heaven, here in Tupper Lake.
WERTHEIMER: That was Becky Sutter (ph), Tommy McGowin (ph) and Esther Cox (ph) ordering their beloved old-fashioned, fried donuts at the Donut Shop. From there, we're joined by the co-owner Tina Merrihew, who explains why she mixes laundry and doughnuts.
TINA MERRIHEW: Well, about 25 years ago, we bought it and, after cleaning out, realized we had a lot of space in here, so we added the store. The laundromat's been here, and the donut shop - pretty much about the same time.
WERTHEIMER: Do these businesses complement one another? I mean, I'm trying to wrap my mind...
MERRIHEW: Everyone says that it's sort of a weird combination, but, you know, actually, it works really well. You know, people come in. You know how everyone loves to do laundry. So the donuts and coffee, you know, helps out, and they can do a little shopping.
WERTHEIMER: So you can get your whole morning's worth of entertainment.
MERRIHEW: That's right - one-stop shopping.
WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) Now, old-fashioned donuts, right? That's what you do?
MERRIHEW: Yeah, old-fashioned. Yeah.
WERTHEIMER: What makes them old-fashioned?
MERRIHEW: They're just like you used to make with your mom or your grandparents years ago, you know. It's more of a thin batter, and you use a hopper. And they actually come out just, like, in a frying pan.
WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) So what's your biggest seller?
MERRIHEW: Actually, they're, like, all old-fashioned, but the best topping we have probably is the maple.
WERTHEIMER: I, also - in reading up on your business, I heard something about doughnuts with bacon.
MERRIHEW: (Laughter) Yeah, actually, it's real bacon that's actually mixed in with the maple frosting.
WERTHEIMER: And does that - does that work for people?
MERRIHEW: Oh, it's excellent.
MERRIHEW: You know, some people hesitate about it, but, overall, people are - well, let's try it. And then they come back for more.
WERTHEIMER: Now, Tupper Lake is a tourist destination.
WERTHEIMER: Has competition moved in? I mean, if the tourists are there, you'd kind of think here come the big chains. Is Krispy Kreme crawling up your back?
MERRIHEW: Well, actually, we had Dunkin' Donuts here. We must have scared them off, but I always tell everyone we really knocked them out of business.
WERTHEIMER: Well, Tina Merrihew, thank you very much for talking to us.
MERRIHEW: Yeah. Alright. Thank you very much.
WERTHEIMER: Tina Merrihew is co-owner of the Donut Shop in Tupper Lake, N.Y., where you could also do your laundry, if you want to. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.