Doughnut Man Is Sweet Success

Reader Contribution by Lois Hoffman
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Jon Yoder is known as the “doughnut man” around Centreville, Michigan, and parts beyond. No holes barred, pardon the pun, he has definitely earned this title. On an average weekend, his store, Yoder’s Country Market, fries 2500 doughnuts. Weekdays the numbers are down a little, they only make 1500.

Doughnuts are just about everybody’s favorite breakfast treat and the nation’s second most profitable retail food item, second only to the potato (who doesn’t love French fries!). Everyone knows cops and doughnuts go together. What would a stakeout be without coffee and the sweet treats that everyone loves to dunk. By the way, the most famous “dunk” was when Clark Gable taught Claudette Colbert how to dunk in the classic 1934 film “It Happened One Night.”

Doughnuts or donuts, as they are sometimes referred to, are deep fried pastries made from circular dough with a hole in the middle. Here’s the “hole” story why they are shaped as such. Back in the 18th century a Maine baker’s apprentice became frustrated when the fried pastries continually turned out with underdone centers. He tried poking holes in them before frying and, as they say, the rest is history.

There are basically two styles of doughnuts; those that are leavened by yeast and allowed to rise before frying, and cake doughnuts which are leavened by baking powder and are a little more dense since they are not allowed to rise. Yoder’s sells both varieties with a number of variations to each one.

Jon laughs, “A doughnut is basically a doughnut, all the varieties start with the basic mix. It’s how you finish them that makes the difference.”

His store is known for fritters which are portions of batter which contain fruit or other fillings. He has not only the more popular apple fritters, but also cappuccino, peach, orange, raspberry and, on occasion, chocolate chip, to name a few. Delores Hamilton is one of the coffee crowd that frequents Yoder’s just about every morning. She says, “Whenever I get a hankering for one, I mention it to Jon and by golly, the next morning he usually has chocolate chip fritters. They are so good when they are warm from the oven with the glaze on top. He’s really good to all of his customers.”

Jon’s story began when he moved out here from Pennsylvania to start his own business. Markets like his are more common out east but he felt this was a prime area to start one. He was designing his bakery when a guy told him he needed to offer doughnuts. It takes a special person to take on such a large project and two weeks later he found that special someone when his wife’s cousin knew someone from Texas who would be perfect for the job. Jon never doubted, “When God puts it together you just stand back and watch it happen.”

His doughnut numbers can be phenomenal. One batch is 185 doughnuts and one gallon of dough makes 125 doughnuts. They make 50 pounds of vanilla glaze every two days. All doughnuts are “proofed” which means they are put in a warm, moist cabinet to make them rise faster. This staggering number of doughnuts is made usually between the hours of 3:00 AM until somewhere around mid-morning every day. Wow!

In this neck of the woods Yoder’s Country Market is synonymous with doughnuts, but there is more to the story. Products that go together, grow together. And how they have grown!

Everyone knows doughnuts and coffee go together. Then you add sandwiches and a deli and salads. Of course when you have a bakery you also have pies, cakes and cookies. At present, the market offers fresh subs, party trays, homemade salads, deli meats and cheese, bulk foods and, of course, their Bar-B-Q.

They have quite a reputation for their Bar-B-Q. Wing days are every Wednesday and Saturday when they do between 2000 and 2500 and offer them for 50 cents a piece. Every bit as popular are their pulled pork and ribs. Every Friday they do between 150 and 175 slabs of ribs. Even with these staggering numbers, you need to get there early or they will be sold out by early afternoon usually.

In addition to the meats, what really sets them apart are their homemade salad and soup recipes. “It takes a little effort to start from scratch, but it is so worth it,” Jon admits. “Everyone remembers foods like their grandmother used to make and that is what we like to offer.”

By far, their potato and broccoli salads are the best sellers. They peel all potatoes by hand and then put a different twist on the salad by shredding them instead of chopping. “It just gives the potato salad a unique flavor and texture,” Jon adds. Apparently so because they sell roughly 5 tons of potato salad each year. Can you even imagine 5 tons of potato salad!

Another point that puts his market one step ahead is that he tries to buy all the produce he uses from local markets. He relies heavily on the Amish produce auction in Indiana. While not strictly organic, the produce is always of good value and usually is raised with no preservatives or, at least, less preservatives than store-bought produce.

Catering for graduation parties, birthday parties, weddings and other events is a large part of his business. Yoder’s is not a full service caterer because they do not set up the food at events, but rather have it ready to be served.

Jon takes pure joy in serving people. He values his customers and goes out of his way for them. He believes, “When you take care of someone they come back time and again.”

And take care, Jon does. Anyone who knows him knows he has a big heart and truly loves people. Yoder’s sponsors a gospel billboard for an entire year for Christian Aid Ministries. He gives to local benefits to help people in the community.

Does he plan for Yoder’s to grow in the future? “Right now we are so busy it is hard to keep up some days,” Jon smiles. “Right now I am just concentrating on the present.”

Jon approaches his business in the same manner that he approaches life, which is everything to honor God. With a motto like that, success is sure to always follow him.

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