The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

August 18, 2013

Madsen Donuts celebrates 75 years of sugary perfection

For the Star Beacon

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE — It’s 5:30 a.m. in Geneva-on-the-Lake, and Keith Biery is ready to make the donuts.

Every morning the ritual begins anew – eggs, sugar, flour and oil – mixed and rolled and then and punched into perfect circles that will eventually become sweet, sugary, glazed pastries.

Biery has worked in the little donut shop by the lake nearly his entire life – his parents, Harry and Bev Biery, bought the shop when he was just four years old – and the daily summer routine of donuts is now a family tradition.

Madsen Donuts celebrates 75 years of sweet success this summer with a battle cry for the future.

“We won’t change a thing, ever,” Biery said. “We have never cut corners, never cut costs on ingredients and never changed a recipe. And we never will.”

The cases at the front of the shop are full of frosted or sugared or filled donuts and bakers and workers make the goodies in full view of the customers. Here, like a workshop of sugar and spice, the donuts are rolled and cut, placed on racks to rise, cooked, sugared or glazed or frosted, dipped in sprinkles or nuts, and finally sold by one or by the dozen each day.

This process happens twice a day, every day, all through the summer.

“Every single person in here is our quality control,” Biery said. “Every person is responsible for making sure each and every donut is perfect. We care about every donut and every customer. We inspect everything every step of the way.”

By the time sleepy customers stroll in for their coffee and donut at 8 a.m., Biery is on a roll. He throws a glob of dough on a flour-sprinkled table and attacks it with a rolling pin. He fluffs the under side of the dough and gets to cutting them out into classic donut shapes. He talks as he goes, but his hands never stop the endless work of making donuts.

In the 75 years since Mr. Madsen opened the doors, the shop has stayed mostly the same. When Biery was “just a kid,” they added a map to show how far people will travel for a Madsen’s donut.

“We brought that map back this year for our 75th year,” Biery said. “Right now our customers have come from Brazil, Germany, Japan and Australia – and Geneva – to get their donuts.”

Biery can’t say how much dough he uses in a week or a month – he estimates 120 pounds of dough on a weekday and three times more than that on a weekend – but there is one statistic that took even the donut man by surprise.

“Our chocolate recipe is 140 pounds of ingredients!” he said. “I couldn’t believe that when I figured it out.”

Keith Biery’s wife, Billie, spreads chocolate over cream-filled donuts. She moves from station to station, doing whatever needs done, when it needs done.

“I have to say, at the beginning of every summer I am so excited for a donut,” she said with a laugh. “But I get over it after awhile. We love what we do!”

Biery isn’t deterred. Even as the leaves begin to change and the summer winds down, he is still excited for his morning donut.

“Try the chocolate cake donuts,” he said with a smile. “They’re the best, I think.”

Madsen Donuts, located on Lake Road next to Katie’s Korner Ice Cream, is open every day through September.