How Sweet It is!
HARRISONBURG — Michael and Julie Westfall of Tenth Legion may not be “in the money” — yet! – but they are definitely rolling in the dough, and loving it.
The couple started a modest venture in June 2012 at the Broadway Farmer’s Market, selling small quantities of homemade glazed and cinnamon-covered donuts out of a tent. Take some word of mouth from satisfied customers and sprinkle in some advertising, and their business “Baker’s Dozen” soon took off.
Now their mobile bakery, where donuts and glazes are made from scratch, can be found Wednesday through Friday at Fat Boys Produce on Va. 42 in Harrisonburg, and on Saturdays at North Main Street in Broadway.
This weekend, the business will be set up at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, with all proceeds donated to charity.
“This business is not about the money,” Mike declared. “Family comes first, and seeing the smiles of customers who obviously enjoy our product gives us our greatest satisfaction.”
Glazed Donuts Popular
The donut enterprise started in part because Julie lost her office job. “My wife already made great donuts,” Mike said, “and neither of us is afraid of hard work, so we said, ‘Let’s go with it.’” And, they did.
Glazed donuts are the overall best seller, Mike noted, but frequently they are outsold by the special flavor of the week, such as peanut butter, pina colada or coconut cream.
Julie is especially proud of her lemonade-flavored donuts.
“Even here, I don’t cut corners,” she said. “The lemonade used in the donuts is from freshly-squeezed lemons.”
Real mashed potatoes are used for the dough, she added. “I’m basically taking things I love and turning them into donuts.”
Two right-hand women are critical ingredients in this garden of confectionery delights. Kathi Seymour and Jeanine Underwood work in the tight quarters of the trailer. Seymour rolls and shapes dough, Underwood adds glaze or other toppings, and both fill customer orders.
“The donuts come in naked and Jeanine dresses them,” Seymour smiled.
The “risky” part of the production—along with getting the dough to rise properly—is knowing how many donuts to make to avoid a surplus at the end of the day. Any leftovers are given to the JMU police department, Mike said.
While the couple already has their hands full making donuts four days a week, Mike also operates Legion Landscape and Lawn Care Service. “I have a great assistant in that business, which really helps free me up,” Mike said.
Mike admits that the long hours—the couple rises at 4 a.m. to start making donuts by 5—and constant set-up and tear-down can become a bit of a “hassle.” But the apparent public acceptance of their product “makes it all worthwhile.”
As one indicator of the business’s growth and success, the Westfalls hope to have a bricks-and-mortar location in Harmony Square by mid-summer. They plan to add additional flavors, including some gluten-free products.
“We started out in Broadway, the people of the town have been loyal supporters and we are committed long term to Broadway,” Mike said, noting that Baker’s Dozen already has a space reserved when the new Broadway Farmers Market is finished late June.
The Westfall's children—Sabrina, 16; and Tanner, 12 —will get involved in operations after school is out for the summer.
Baker's Dozen is on Facebook, where the special flavor of the week is advertised and a contest is held to win a dozen donuts.
And, they accept major credit cards, which may be a problem for persons who love donuts but have little will power.
"We come here regularly," said Stephanie Saverance, of Broadway, who stopped with children Cole, 5, and Riley, 7. "There's something about the warmth and freshness of the donuts that keeps us coming back. If we don't come, someone else brings some to us."
Baker's Dozen seems to be on its way to becoming a family tradition.
"Last week my dad stopped by with a boxful to make sure his grandbabies had some," Saverance said.
Find A Donut!
Baker's Dozen operates Wednesday through Friday at Fat Boy's Produce on Va. 42 across from Harmony Square Shopping Center. On Saturdays, their mobile bakery-trailer can be found along N. Main Street in Broadway. The shop opens for business at 7 a.m. and goes until 6 p.m. or until the donuts are sold out, whichever happens first. They also will deliver larger orders at no charge "within reasonable driving distance."