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You can tell something’s different about Donuts & More before you even walk in the doors.

Outside the doughnut shop on Brady Street in Davenport, a large marquee reads, “Donut Worry. Be Happy.”

In the past, words on that sign weren’t so witty. The sign previously told passersby what seasonal treats were available — “Orange donuts” or “Pumpkin donuts” — or wished them a Merry Christmas.

In recent months, though, those driving up Brady Street have been greeted with messages such as, “Irish I had a donut” (in honor of St. Patrick’s Day) and “Diets are overrated. Eat donuts.”

Customers who frequent the Donuts & More locations in Davenport and Moline have noticed other “tiny little changes” since Scott and Cris Ryder, both realtors in the Quad-Cities, bought the business in December from the couple who opened the now-iconic bakery in 1984.

“We want to grow the ‘more’ part of it,” Cris Ryder said. “I don’t want to change it so people come in and say, ‘I don’t recognize it.’ We want to keep it simple, but keep it growing.”

First on the list of changes?

Giving Donuts & More a digital presence.

The doughnut shop now has its own website and Facebook and Instagram pages.

“We want people to Google ‘where to get doughnuts in the Quad-Cities’ and find us,” Scott Ryder said.

Other changes include offering stronger coffee, special monthly doughnuts and making sure the cases are full of doughnuts throughout the day.

There’s also the decor, which the Ryders hope to update in the coming months. Inside the Davenport store, there’s a functional putting green (with a pink balloon doughnut at the end) that Scott Ryder built when Donuts & More participated in the Putt-A-Round, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley.

“This place is a fixture of the community,” Scott Ryder said. “We want to continue that tradition.”

A Quad-City staple

The couple never planned on getting into the bakery business.

The Ryders, who own Exit Realty Fireside, were driving somewhere when Scott told his wife, “So yeah, I’m thinking about buying this doughnut shop.”

They went to take a look.

“When I walked out the door, I felt like I could make it something cool,” Cris Ryder said. “I just got this good feeling about it.”

Her husband, Scott, grew up going to Donuts & More.

“It’s one of the staple things in the Quad-Cities,” he said. “It’s not as big as Whitey’s or Happy Joe’s, but it’s up there.”

Tom and Jan Amyette, both in their 70s, had been looking for someone to take over Donuts & More. But not just anyone.

The Amyettes had previously sold Donuts & More, which they opened in 1984 as a Donutland franchise, and had been in retirement for five years when they learned the new owner wasn’t going to renew the building lease.

“Both buildings were becoming eyesores in the community,” Jan Amyette said. “We thought the neighborhoods deserved better than that.”

Within a few hours of the business being on the market back in June 2015, the Amyettes bought it back.

“We didn’t even really talk about it,” she said. “It was an eye contact thing.”

They rebuilt the business and, two years later, were waiting for the right offer. They were looking for buyers who would carry on the Donuts & More name.

“That was the goal,” Jan said. “We wanted to preserve what we had built after all those years. We couldn’t bear the thought of it becoming something else.”

When they met the Ryders, they saw a couple “who had the passion for it,” Jan said.

A gathering place

For a month after the purchase, Cris Ryder trained under Jan. She learned everything from the finances to how to best pack a box of a dozen doughnuts.

“It was kind of overwhelming,” Cris Ryder said.

She learned customers’ names and their favorite doughnuts. She also learned that this place she owned was much more than a business.

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“It’s a gathering place,” she said. “When people are in town just visiting family, this is their first stop. When they’re about to hop on a plane, they come here to grab doughnuts to take with them.”

“It kind of gives you the chills. They’re taking you across the country with them.”

And then there are the regulars, some of whom stop by every morning starting at 4:30 a.m. for a doughnut.

“It makes people so happy,” Cris Ryder said. “And it’s not an expensive thing. You get a doughnut for 95 cents and it kind of makes your day.”

That was Jan Amyette’s favorite part of working at Donuts & More. She worked there seven days a week.

“People stopped by to be with their friends,” she said. “They looked to see whose cars are outside before deciding if they were going to stop.”

That’s why she and her husband couldn’t imagine Donuts & More being no more.

“A lot of people had memories there,” she said.

Herself included.

Jan Amyette said she keeps a scrapbook filled with photos and mementos tied to the doughnut shop. It includes several Quad-City Times articles about Donuts & More.

“I’ll put this story you’re writing in there, too,” she said. “That’s where the memories are now.”

When they turned over the keys to the Ryders, Jan and Tom Amyette didn’t make a big deal about it.

“We didn’t say goodbye to the customers,” Jan Amyette said. “We just kind of slipped out the back door.”

The doughnut shop never belonged to them anyway.

“All the people who came by over the years,” she said. “That’s who it belongs to.”

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Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).