John Schwager rises long before the crack of dawn – midnight, actually – to get to his shop between 12:30 and 1 a.m. to start mixing, rolling, baking, and frying donuts made from scratch. His business partner, Karen Kidwell gets to sleeps in, arriving at the shop by 4 a.m. to decorate the sweet treats.
Schwager and Kidwell were vacationing in Moab in 2017, when they noted they couldn’t find a local donut-maker in town. They had previously owned and operated a printing business in California.
“I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a donut shop,” at that time, he says. “So, we moved to Moab and opened a donut shop.”
While The Donut Shop, at 65 E. Center St., specialize in “classic donuts” – raised, glazed, and cake – you’ll also find some specialty varieties like Long Johns, turnovers, and Bismarks.
Both the raspberry, and the chocolate Bavarian cream Bismarks are the shop’s top sellers – along with the classic donuts, Schwager says.
Other temptations include lemon cream, key lime, and apple pie, as well as seasonal varieties like pumpkin spice created around Thanksgiving time, and apple cider cake donuts, made in the fall. The Palisade Peach Bismark is a summertime favorite – crafted from peaches grown at Kokopelli Farms in Palisade, Colorado, near Grand Junction.
Schwager and Kidwell opened The Donut Shop in August, 2019 – right before the pandemic hit and the town shut down – a challenging time to have a new business. Those first 14 months were tough, but as soon as the city opened back up business perked up and it’s been busy ever since, says Schwager.
The Donut Shop is a quick-serve place where you get your donuts to-go – although there’s a bench out front where some customers like to sit in the morning sun. Regular customers include schoolkids who like to grab a donut on their way to school. Older folks on their morning walks also often stop in for a treat.
Tourists tend to visit the shop early for donuts before heading off down the road or trail, Schwager says. He has a regular repeat clientele of local residents, too.
“I’ve tried to keep my prices low for the locals,” he says. “That’s why I’m not on Main Street – Center Street is a better location for locals.”
Summer hours are Tuesday through Sunday. The shop is closed Monday. During the winter the shop is closed both Sunday and Monday. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to noon – or whenever the donuts sell out.