John Dough-nuts! YUM
John Dough-Nuts Willoughbys offers great food, friendly service and live local entertainment STORY by kass fincher When current owner Tom Miller first noticed the little building on US Hwy 17 on his drive to his furniture store in Myrtle Beach, it was a motorcycle bar. “JW’s” was the name. Over time it was sold to other owners, who changed the bar’s name to “Shamrock” and later “Billy Goats.” The names changed but the owners continued to cultivate the biker crowd.
It’s midnight at Jondough Coffee and Doughnuts, and the fresh, handmade doughnut-making is underway. The dough is made and rolled out, the doughnuts are cut out and the frying begins. Tucker Connette heads out the door by 4:20 a.m. to make deliveries to area retailers, and other employees begin the baking for the shop. By the end of the day, they will have made 5-6 batches total, over 30 dozen doughnuts. It sounds like a smooth, precisely run operation, but it has taken awhile to get to that point. Owners Jon Connette, his son Tucker and sister-in-law Evelyn are celebrating their first anniversary at the shop in Leland. The little building on Village Road was formerly a bank, then more recently a dry cleaning business. When they renovated the building, the Connette’s concrete construction background came in handy. The counter tops and table tops are all uniquely made of concrete, designed and built by Jon and his son Tucker. Original paintings of doughnuts adorn the walls; a local customer so loved the sweet stuff that she sat down there one day and painted them. Some areas in the building remain from past businesses – the drive-through area and the bank vault are still there. Evelyn laughs and explains that the vault is their office space today. “But we didn’t find any leftover money there,” she says. “That would have been a plus.” When the Connettes started the business, they had experience in coffee roasting but not doughnut-making. They spent many months testing doughnut recipes, tossing out many batches as they perfected the product. Today, the ever-popular glazed doughnut is one of their biggest sellers. But chocolate and maple- bacon choices are right up there too. Evelyn describes the appeal of the latter. “When I first bit into the maple-bacon doughnut it reminded me of pancakes and bacon” she says. Not a bad association, one might say. And every holiday season brings in new creations. Cinco de Mayo was celebrated with the margarita-flavored doughnut. For the Christmas and New Year’s season, there are snowmen, reindeer, eggnog andcherry-bomb doughnuts to put you in the spirit of the holidays. Most would say the Connettes picked a great location to build their business. Jon has been in the area for 30 years; Evelyn 19 years and Tucker his whole life. They have seen Leland change a great deal in that time. “When I moved here from Ohio, there was nothing here,” relates Evelyn. “Leland is growing a lot – and that’s good news for us and other businesses here.” In their short time in business, the Connettes have cultivated a very loyal customer base. “We have a lot of regulars, people we’ve gotten to know,” says Evelyn. “When they call ahead, we already know their order and can get it ready for them when they come in.” The Brunswick Forest, Magnolia Greens, Waterford and other newer communities have been big customers for Jondough. Some of their residents from New York actually helped Jondough locate a supplier for their preferred bagel product. “We had many New Yorkers coming in, asking us for New York bagels,” recalls Evelyn. “We wanted to accommodate them. We tried six different bagels, and finally found one supplier who got it right. We’re told it’s all about the water – the New York water is what makes that bagel authentic.” Area business people also frequently call on Jondough to provide special orders. “One lady comes in every week and picks up doughnuts to take to her clients,” says Evelyn. “And last year a law firm had us make 20 dozen doughnuts for their event.” The wholesale deliveries are also a big part of Jondough’s business. They provide fresh doughnuts daily to nine area retail outlets, including Java Dog and Gigi’s in Wilmington, Handy Hugo’s and Go Gas. The Hawthorne Apartments in Leland get five dozen doughnuts every Saturday. Deliveries have to be made by 5:30 a.m. each day and the Connettes hope to grow that business. Supporting the local community is another important objective. A nearby church – Closer Walk – receives monthly donations from Jondough for the homeless community they serve. The students at North Brunswick High School are selling Jondough discount cards as a fundraiser. Local first responders, seniors and veterans receive a discount as well. The Connettes hope to participate in more community events in the future. They had a very popular adult doughnut-eating contest this year, and, due to pressure from area kids, are planning a similar contest for children next year. Proceeds will benefit the local Habitat for Humanities organization. With their first year under their belt, Evelyn sums up Jondough’s continuing commitment to quality. “The doughnuts are made fresh every morning, all done by hand. Basically we just bring a homemade touch to the store.” Try them; you’ll be glad you did.
Jondough Coffee and Doughnuts 113 Village Rd NE, Leland, NC 28451 (910) 399-7548 Hours: Closed Monday Open Tuesday – Sunday 6:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.