Amish Donut Maker: Sorry, No Donuts For You This Year

This is the kind of local color story I always get a kick out of. Not that I’m excited that this particular community will go without their Amish-made donuts. Not that at all.

It’s more how it shows how people value the products and experiences Amish people bring to their communities.

The Power of Amish Donuts

Amish in many places are renowned for their donuts. The first example that comes right to mind are the donuts at Unity, Maine’s Amish-run Community Market, which features highly popular weekly “Donut Days“.

And if you’ve ever had Amish-made donuts, you know what I’m talking about. I think it has to do with lard, or something. I don’t ask questions, I just shut up and eat them 🙂

So this particular story of donut misfortune comes out of Connellsville, Pennsylvania. Bylers Donut Stand has for about 10 years been selling their treats in a parking lot in this small city in western PA. Not this year, though.

The reason? A bridge has been shut down, cutting the source of traffic, and customers, going past their location. And despite efforts from the city, they haven’t been able to agree on an alternate spot. From the Connellsville Daily Courier:

Mayor Greg Lincoln felt Yough River Park would have been the perfect place for the business this summer since the Connellsville Farmer’s Market will move from the East Side Fire Station area to Yough Park this year.

“They (the Amish) could’ve come and set up there as early as they needed to on the day of the market,” said Lincoln. “They would’ve had access to restrooms, water and electric there as well.”

But the market is scheduled for a weekday, Cocks said and that didn’t fit the donut maker’s schedule.

Donut menu, Knox County, Ohio Amish bakery. Photo: Mike Sparks

It sounds like locals, the mayor included, are pretty disappointed:

“They’ve made money every time they were here and for them to say the can only set up in a high traffic area is troubling,” he said. “They were well established and people came for their donuts and I think they would’ve gladly made their way to a new site.”

Apparently they didn’t think so, and made a business decision to look elsewhere. Bylers does have alternate locations, including in nearby Greensburg, where they’ll be selling. “It’s bittersweet that they’re not coming this year because they’re like family to us,” said another official. “Hopefully they will be back next year.”

Unity, Maine. Image: Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The Challenges of Running a Successful Amish Donut Stand

This story also reveals what goes into running a successful donut business as an Amish person. Just in case you were wondering:

“They come to the site at 3 a.m. and they require access to restrooms and need water and electricity hook-ups,” said Cocks. “I would go in and unlock the Connellsville Canteen for them early in the morning for them to have access to these things.”

That’s an early start! They are even beating the dairy farmers to it.

City officials did try to work with them on setting up in other possible locations.

“We looked at the East Side Fire Station but they felt the traffic flow would not be as good and the space was not level,” said Cocks. “They have vats of oil and things they work with so it’s important to have a level space.

Another suggested site was the Yough River Park, but Cocks said they didn’t feel the traffic flow there would be enough to make it worth their while.

Image: News Center Maine

Like any business, they need to have enough customers to make all that setup and effort worthwhile.

Cocks said the whole process of making the donuts is very involved.

“First of all the Amish don’t drive so they have to hire two drivers and pay them to sit there with them for the day, and then they start making the donuts from scratch with flour and yeast and wait for the dough to be ready,” he said. “They need to feel sure that their stops are profitable for them.”

This is another part of the business equation. Unlike non-Amish people, the Amish have to have, in this case, multiple drivers on the clock for the entire work day – from front door to parking lot and back. So you’ve got two additional people to pay for a full day’s work.

Given all that, I can understand why Bylers has to be selective as to where they set up. Hopefully Connellsville can get their bridge back up and running and entice this business back into town next year. Or, at least an alternative provider, which is another option they’re considering.

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    4 Comments

    1. john

      donuts

      I understand their reluctance to the move but if they are moving to a spot here the local farmers market is going to be located maybe they should try it for several weeks to see what the business draw will be see if it is worth it to move they may find the business may be better than they expect.
      It sounds like the local government is trying to bend over backwards to help them out. I can’t wait to get some Amish donuts when I go back to Northern Michigan this summer they melt in your mouth.

      1. Erik Wesner

        Yea you can tell they are really going to miss them and maybe even a little hurt that they couldn’t figure out a solution.

        But if it’s my business and I have better options where I can be more certain it’s going to pay off for me and my family…I can’t say I blame them. Especially if I’m getting up at 3 am to make the donuts! 🙂

    2. Jim

      Amish settlement near by?

      I never knew the amish to have a settlement down near connellsville pa. Anyone have any information about the settlement? My wife and I are up in the smicksburg settlement in PA.

    3. Yul

      hmmm

      This mayor, given their digital footprint, doesn’t seem all that friendly to the Amish. The decision sounds like it was purposefully made to cause these issues.