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House of Donuts

duluth-house-of-donuts

I recently recovered this photo from my attic. It’s dated July 18, 1992. That’s me on the left in my Minnesota Twins championship T-shirt, proudly raising a bag full of what have got to be bear claws. PDD co-founder Barrett Chase is on the right. In the middle, grabbing his junk, is Bob Schulte.

For most of its existence, and at the time of the photo above, House of Donuts was located just east of where the Whole Foods Co-op is now, at 624 E. Fourth St. Ronald and Michele Carter were the owners.

It opened in the mid-1970s at 1231 E. Fourth St., and moved to the 624 location around 1983. The Shanty Bottle Shop took over the 1231 location and remains there today. Before the HOD moved to 624 the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat was there.

John and Pamela Gressman bought the HOD in 1999, after selling the neighboring Casa de Roma restaurant to Charles Lemon, who turned it into C.W. Chips, a bar and restaurant.

The images below are from a Facebook page called “We will never forget you HOD (House of Donuts),” which no longer exists

66 Comments

Brandon

about 8 years ago

How in the world is that place not still open? Tacos? Donuts? Subs? Those are my favorite food groups!

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

I like that the sign has "donuts" on it twice.

Monkeybars

about 8 years ago

It has "tacos" twice, too.

jake

about 8 years ago

Somewhere I have a fantastic photo of the "Non-smoking" section.  I believe it was a 2 seat table by the front door.

NateL

about 8 years ago

I came across the now-grounded later-generation awning while on a walkabout in the Lincoln Park area this past summer.



I didn't know HOD existed until it was too late.

Conrad

about 8 years ago

The food was okay, but what made the food great was that you could get it late. My buddies lived by there for awhile and between Jim's Hamburgers terrible breakfast (terrible food in general; loved it though) and HOD, us college students could eat like kings.

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

There's nothing to stop someone from copying that business model and opening a new 24-hour donut-based restaurant. Just putting that out there.

sparhawk

about 8 years ago

Meatball sandwich and a butter bar to go!

girlfromnorthcountry

about 8 years ago

Ohh the tacos were the best.  Late night taco/donut run.  We used to walk down to HOD when we lived at 11th Ave E in college, and sit in the park eating tacos in the middle of the night.  Good times.  We miss you HOD!

Tony D.

about 8 years ago

Pepper steak and two butter bars, George, 'cuz you're gonna need another butter bar for your a.m. hangover.

Paul, in the 1980s there was a gruff gent who made the subs in the wee hours, and we all assumed he was the owner as well -- didn't recall his name was Michele, though.

Sam

about 8 years ago

There was a recent thread on Donuts in Duluth.  There wasn't a consensus on the best Donuts in the area, as I recall.

Bill

about 8 years ago

For a while me and some folks would stop in late every Thursday night after the old time music jam at Sir Benedict's. Love the place as it reminded me of good old Mickeys Dinner. It had that great late night/early morning collection of riff-raffy individuals (us included) who don't seem to exist anywhere outside of places like HOD, or bus stations or laundromats.

Taxidancer

about 8 years ago

I loved the roast beef with those huge pickle and onion chunks!! I forgot about those butter bars.

heysme

about 8 years ago

@Tony D - Tony Pagonis and the "gruff gent" often got together at the shop after closing down Coney Island (Sup St). My memory is that the "gruff gent" owned HOD.

Christa

about 8 years ago

I still think about the House of Donuts every day. Every. Day.

Andrew

about 8 years ago

There's not much in the News Tribune Attic on the House of Donuts, but there was this one photo I posted a few years back:

Baci

about 8 years ago

Butter bar! Nothing topped off a night in SupeTown like a deep-fried stick of butter.

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

What, dare I ask, was a "butter bar"???  Or ... do I really want to know?

The Big E

about 8 years ago

I moved here in 2000 desperately wishing for a donut shop and never had any idea this place was (?) here.  I'm still desperately wishing for that donut shop, by the way, so feel free to take Barrett's hint as long as you locate somewhere east-ish.  

In the former Lakeside Falk's would be super.

adam

about 8 years ago

I have a magnet on my fridge: "More Then Just Donuts."

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

Adam, was it "More Than Just Donuts" or are you repeating the misused word "then" from the magnet?

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

Apparently the old signs have last been seen behind Horseshoe Billiards. 



Thanks for the tip and photo, Don. (And also Nate, for the less-specific tip and photo.)

BAci

about 8 years ago

The butter bar ala HOD was a heavy, cakey deep fried glazed thing that looked kinda like a twinky but with heavy dough and no filling. Might have been soaked in butter then split along the top and deep fried and glazed (much like many of us who ordered them a 2:30 am). They came in chocolate too.

wildgoose

about 8 years ago

This was one idea that we had for Speedy Wienie before moving in a different direction.  I mean, where do you go for quick food, people watching and indifferent service at 2 am? I mean, we'd change the service from indifferent to friendly, at least.  

I do think this is a viable business model,  I mean, it should be viable.  But somehow whenever anyone tries it things don't work out long term.

wildgoose

about 8 years ago

Horseshoe Billiards could have it's own post, I should think.  I ended up in the back room once last year while trying to find the toilet. It's actually a mothballed pool hall, completely full of old restaurant equipment, signs, and so on.   I felt like I was in the twilight zone.

Tony D.

about 8 years ago

Thanks, heysme!

Emmadog, butter bars were thick, cake-like goodies shaped like a huge candy bar and loaded with buttery goodness, probably a day's worth of calories in one. The also served chocolate-covered butter bars...that and a cup of coffee and a Sunday paper helped me navigate many a Sunday morning while attending UMD as an undergrad.

adam

about 8 years ago

"More Then Donuts." I'll scan the magnet some day.

Ben

about 8 years ago

Davey Jones.

chiefly

about 8 years ago

You could get a coronary just walking by that place. That building started off as a laundromat. I actually was in the basement once, where they actually made the donuts. Now that was an interesting place.

Stephanos

about 8 years ago

I used to live right up the hill on 13th Street. I'd stumble or fly down the hill on my bike (depending on how many beers I had had), and would usually order mini tacos and nachos supreme (more of a savory palette). The inebriated folk, swearing and harassment of all kinds, along with ralphing in the bathroom, crazy employees and all sorts of booze induce fights were all complimentary sides.  I do remember people being generally helpful and jolly drunk, though, with the troublemakers getting physically flushed out into the street, often to a waiting squad.

Rij

about 8 years ago

I'm fortunate to have visited the HOD on many occasions.  Right across the street next to the Last Chance Liquor was another favorite college staple ... Jonny Ray: Home of the $5 Pizza!

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

Let's not forget the Casa de Roma.

johnm

about 8 years ago

Guess I have to out myself as Tony D's roommate those years.  That sub w/ the pickle ruled.   Course that was after a couple years at Emerson w/ Baci and the other n'er-do-wells.  There was an interesting combination of 'iron youth' and hippies.

David

about 8 years ago

My great sense of "oh God, I'm not in a city anymore was the twofold realization:

1.  No 24-hour Kinkos.
2.  No 24-hour donut joint.

If we can develop either of those, Duluth will be closer to home.

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

Oh good lord, that was a butter bar???  I've completely lost my appetite for the next five years.  I don't care what anyone says:  excessive alcohol intake can only go so far, can only justify so many things.

Yuck.

jessige

about 8 years ago

If you want to put in a 24-hour donut shop, and you want to make money at it, might I suggest that the old University Conoco site would be a pretty sweet location.

And no, I don't work for the leasing company, but I do drive past it every day and would probably stop for a donut.  As would the kajillion college kids nearby.

girlfromnorthcountry

about 8 years ago

@jessige, I think there used to be a Dunkin Donuts behind the University Conoco, no foolin.  And I agree with you, a 24-hour coffee-n-donuts place would be good there.

TimK

about 8 years ago

There was a doughnut shop there, but I don't think it was a Dunkin Donuts franchise. I think it was late 70s to early 80s.

jessige

about 8 years ago

Ha!  Sweet.  I resubmit my idea that someone ought to put a Tim Hortons in this town.

Sam

about 8 years ago

Tim Hortons rules.  Canadians do donuts right.

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

This gets me thinking: Are there any locally owned, non-franchise establishments that are open 24 hours? Not just restaurants but anything at all?

girlfromnorthcountry

about 8 years ago

@TimK, if we're on the HOD thread, the proper term is "donuts," not "doughnuts."  But you're correct, it was not a Dunkin Donuts that I remembered; it was a Mr. Donut and there was another one on Grand Avenue.  Thank you, News Tribune Attic!

Mr. Donut

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

Walking to the Mr. Donut on Grand Avenue when I was about 4 years old was about the greatest thing ever.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

As far as locally-owned 24-hour joints, the only thing I can come up with is that restaurant in the Androy Hotel that I can never remember the name of and I think has been closed for several years.

Of course, there's probably a couple locally owned (but probably franchise) convenience stores that are open 24 hours, but that doesn't really count.

TimK

about 8 years ago

Joe Huey's was 24 hours.

jessige

about 8 years ago

You know, it's funny.  When I moved here ten years ago, from a far more vanilla-flavored town than this one, I was shocked at how early everything closed.  Even the mall--8pm?  Seriously?

It's different now, it seems, but only at the corporate giants.  

However, if corporate giant TIM HORTON'S wants to come here, that's a horse of a different chocolate-angel-and-the-best-coffee-ever-to-go-please color.

misto fries

about 8 years ago

Did they even have donuts? Real donuts? All I remember eating here was a roast beef sandwich with cheez whiz.

wildgoose

about 8 years ago

I don't think there are any locally owned, 24-hour (non-convenience store, non-casino) businesses within 30 miles, maybe not even 50.  Hence the idea to start one.  But I'm gun shy about new business ventures.  If someone has an idea I'd love to hear it.  

This is a business school no-no but I will share this with the PDD brain trust since I'm (pretty) sure I have abandoned this idea:  I have toyed with doing a late night/24 hr quick food stop with Speedy Wienie at the 8th St Video (on 9th St)  building, which is for sale/lease. 


Mrs. Goose thinks the idea is insane with an extremely low probability of long-term profitability and she's right.

dawggy

about 8 years ago

Well, goose, if you were the owner/ operator and sole late nite employee, you could prepare a snack bar type spread of all your overnite necessities for a semi quick reheatable turn around, and run it like a big city crack house, secret knock and/or password and all. Doze on a cot in the back and rise when prompted to throw midnite tacos and sandwiches together for your drunken neighbors. Not too far off from HOD at 3:30AM.. You could even serve it thru a mail slot-like opening in the door. 'Urban appeal' with low overhead...

Ramos

about 8 years ago

You could open a 24-hour shop selling synthetic marijuana and you'd make a killing.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

The reason 24-hour restaurants are rare is that most people have no desire to work overnights dealing with drunken jerks. 

Among the people who think dealing with drunken jerks would be fun, few are capable of launching or sustaining a business.

The reason selling donuts 24 hours a day is an extra challenge is that people expect donuts to be cheap. One has to sell a lot of $1.25 donuts to pay the bills. Sure 25 drunks might swing through at 2:09 a.m., but over the next five hours there might be four customers. Each of those customers would probably love the place and remember it fondly forever after it closed, but fond memories are not the stuff that keeps the lights on.

emmadogs

about 8 years ago

You don't sell donuts for profit.  You sell them out of love.

Butter Bars, I'm not so sure about.

wildgoose

about 8 years ago

Lundgren, I think you got hacked.  Clearly, Mrs. Goose is now writing your comments.

Bill

about 8 years ago

Say isn't the "Duluth Sauna" a 24 hour Mom and Pop place? Honestly I wouldn't know.

David

about 8 years ago

Paul, while I see your logic, the other answer to why 24-hour joints don't work in Duluth (unlike other, larger cities) is that, frankly, we lack the economic engine of shift-work.  The other reason to want a donut at 2am is that you've just finished your 5pm-to-1am shift at your job.

Similarly, when I saw there was no 24-hour Kinkos, I knew that a whole range of business and creative cultures could not happen in Duluth -- the zinester making copies at 5am before heading off to school, the high-tech print job that has to be dropped off at 5pm and ready by 9am, etc.

We're just a little slower in metabolism.

Jon

about 8 years ago

HoD Bear Claws big enough to obscure a watch...

zra

about 8 years ago

Winchells was the go-to donut shop when I was a kid.

There's also the Spudnut shop in Richland WA.

Shane

about 8 years ago

A couple of things I wonder about, why did the HOD close? Was it really bought out by the co-op and torn down for more parking? What was with putting the awning up on roof?

cork1

about 8 years ago

I might get hassled for this statement, but I think HoD closed because donuts that taste awesome when you're drunk =/= donuts that taste awesome when you're sober.

It's Duluth, and there are people who drink early, but not enough to keep a business open.

Definitely wasn't bought out by the co-op though -- HoD closed many years before WFC bought the 6th East location.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

Actually, I'm pretty sure House of Donuts closed almost exactly when the co-op expansion happened. The co-op bought its current building in March 2005. PDD first noted that House of Donuts had closed in July 2005.

cork1

about 8 years ago

I stand corrected. 

I find it amazing that I only recall the place being open until around 1999. Did it quit being open 24 hours at some point? Because I definitely recall buying frozen White Castles at the Gangster Spur walking home from the Red Lion in October 2003, and I can't imagine Fromberg and I would have gone that route if donuts were available.

Barrett Chase

about 8 years ago

Paul, the thing about those quiet hours between the bar rush and the morning rush is that you have to be there at that time to make the donuts anyway. And as I type that it strikes me that the donuts drunk people bought at 2am were probably stale as hell.

The restaurant at the Androy is called Papa Don's. The last I knew it was open, but it was no longer open 24 hours. This was a couple years ago.

Bill, according to their website, the Duluth Family Sauna closes at 10:30pm.

I guess technically Fond-du-Luth Casino is locally owned and is open 24 hours.

adam

about 8 years ago

I think it is population density: if there were enough demand for a 24-hour Kinko's, there would be one. With food, currently Taco John's, McDonald's, Perkins, the Chicken and Ghetto Spur and other convenience stores appear to fill enough of the gap.

IMO: If you have a high-tech print job that needs overnight self-service printing (versus high-tech professional print services which run 24 hours anyway) that has to be dropped off at 5PM and ready by 9AM, you are either doing mad business, or you fucked up. The grocery stores, the Walgreens, the Walmarts and some gas stations have color copiers in a pinch.

Duluth Family Sauna has a Saturday Overnight Special (no-reentry) from 12PM-8AM Sunday.

More often than not, after 2AM, the HOD had 1 employee working.

mickey d

about 8 years ago

I think the Sauna is more pop-n-pop.

Claire

about 8 years ago

I was on the co-op board when they bought that property in 2005. I don't remember there being any connection to that and HOD closing that same year.

I used to work in an office in the Building for Women, which overlooked the Duluth Family Sauna. Oh my.

Diane Marie

about 12 months ago

Worked at HOD when it was on 13th Ave E.  Great place to work while in college. Carters were great to work for and I could have as many donuts etc as I wanted when I went to the cabin in Ely every weekend   I remember all the police officers and when the professional skating show came to town every year. Those skaters loved their sweets!

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