Sue Lillybeck has seen a lot of doughnut shops come and go in the Quad-Cities, including Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

With the Krispy Kreme store in Davenport closing soon, the owner of Donut Delite Ltd., 3606 Avenue of the Cities, Moline, figures things will be busier for her and her employees. That’s because Krispy Kreme had a large wholesale distribution business — selling to places like convenience stores and grocery stores all over the region.

“We’re always getting new accounts and losing accounts,” Lillybeck said. “The idea is to stay ahead of the game. If I went back over the last 25 years, how many doughnut shops has come and gone? I can name at least seven. You just keep plodding along and do what you do well.”

That list includes Donutland and Dunkin’ Donuts in addition to many smaller operations.

When Krispy Kreme opened on 53rd Street in Davenport six years ago, Lillybeck lost some wholesale business — including sales to many convenience stores. But Krispy Kreme is ending its wholesale business Thursday while retail sales — doughnuts purchased by walk-in and drive-in customers — are expected to cease in late February or early March.

One Quad-City account Lillybeck lost but now has back is Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard convenience stores.

“That was a huge account,” Lillybeck said. “I was devastated when I lost the account. I was stunned when I lost it.”

But she kept in touch with representatives from Mother Hubbard’s and eventually got the account back, long before news of Krispy Kreme’s demise was reported.

She also will begin supplying Kwik Shops in the Iowa Quad-Cities and Gasland on the Illinois side, she said.  “I lost the Kwik Shops about three to four years ago,” Lillybeck said.

She continues to have the accounts of many other convenience stores, including Big 10 Marts and One Stop Mart, which have merged.

In all, the doughnut-making business has about 100 wholesale accounts, including schools, hospitals, all Deere & Co. locations and Alcoa Davenport Works.

Donut Delite makes between 4,000 or 5,000 doughnuts a day. Employees begin deliveries in the evening to make sure they are finished by about 6 a.m. every day, Lillybeck said.

What others will do

How the Krispy Kreme closing affects other businesses will vary.

Miguel Alba, public affairs director for Jewel-Osco, said some of the Quad-City area stores have been carrying packaged Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Although he did not say where the product will come from once the Davenport store closes, he said those “packaged Krispy Kreme doughnuts will continue to be available at our Quad-City stores.”

Debbie Geisler, Quad-City marketing coordinator for Hy-Vee Foods, said those stores will stop selling Krispy Kreme products. She said Hy-Vee believes the closest Krispy Kreme store now will be Des Moines and that is too far to supply Quad-City area locations.

Calls to Krispy Kreme’s corporate offices were not returned.

Bill Walljasper, chief financial officer for Casey’s General Stores, said the chain is not affected by Krispy Kreme’s departure. Casey’s has 1,450 company stores in nine states, including the entire Quad-City area market.

“We make our own. We started making our own doughnuts in the early 1980s,” he said. “We actually are one of the top 10 retailers of doughnuts and pizza in the country in terms of retail outlets.”

Local Fareway stores have sold Krispy Kremes before, but do not any more, a local store manager said.

One of the few locally owned doughnut shops left in the Quad-Cities is Donuts & More, which has locations at 2430 16th St., Moline, and 1717 Brady St., Davenport.

Co-owner Jan Amyette said she does not expect to pick up much, if any, wholesale business from Krispy Kreme.

“We would not seek out accounts,” she said. “We would consider it if they seek us out. We are waiting to see what would affect us.”

She said some stores in communities outside the metro area that now carry Krispy Kremes may have to find “mom and pop” doughnut operations to fill the gaps or they may begin stocking more packaged doughnuts.

Amyette said Donuts & More prefers the retail business, “but with some wholesale customers added in.”

Long history

Lillybeck’s parents, Gordon and Virginia Houchin, opened a doughnut shop in 1979 in Silvis. Two years later, they opened the Moline Donut Delite.

“I got involved in 1982. I bought the Silvis store from my parents because they couldn’t handle two locations,” she explained.

 In 1985, she purchased the Moline store from her parents when they moved out West to open a doughnut store.

“If you had asked me if  I would still be doing this 25 years ago, I would have said no. I never thought I would do this that long,” she said.

She said a quarter-century ago, about 75 to 80 percent of the business was retail. Wholesale sales were a much smaller slice of the … doughnut.

“But as more and more doughnut shops popped up, it became harder and harder to depend on retail alone,” Lillybeck said. Plus, she said, the 1980s brought an influx of convenience stores that also sold doughnuts and other fresh pastries.

Karen Calkins, day shift manager of the Moline Donut Delite, is a longtime employee — and customer.

“I used to bring in my girls when they were younger, and my mother-in-law,” she said.

Then, 17 years ago, Donut Delite was looking for someone to hire. “I was going to work to help put my girls through college, and I am still here.”

She begins her day at 3:30 a.m. doing a host of jobs and getting ready for the shop to open up for the public at 4:30 a.m.

Popular doughnuts

Karen Calkins, day shift manager at Donut Delite in Moline, lists what she says are the three most popular doughnuts sold at the shop: double-chocolate cake, raised glaze and chocolate-frosted long johns.

Bakeries draw doughnut customers

The small doughnut shop is a dying breed in the Quad-City area. In addition to grocery stores, only a few places make their own doughnuts and very few others specialize in the product.

Donuts & More in Moline and Davenport and Donut Delite in Moline are the only shops that have “donut” in their names.  

But at least two places definitely are known for their doughnuts.

Olde Towne Bakery, 1824 7th St., Moline, is one place where

customers come to enjoy the smells and tastes of items like cinnamon fries and apple fritters, said employee Carol Rolph of

Rock Island, who has worked there for about 14 years.

“We have a couple of booths for people to come in and have coffee and doughnuts,” she said. “We open up at 6 in the morning and soon there always is someone ready to come in.”

Rolph said the location has been a bakery for about 75 years.

South Park Bakery, 513 20th St., Rock Island, has been at that location for 41 years, said Amy Taylor, whose father, Leo Simmons, has owned it for that long. Prior to that, his parents owned South Park for a couple of years. For many years, before moving to the fringe of downtown Rock Island, the bakery was located near South Park Presbyterian Church on Rock Island’s 30th Street.

Taylor said South Park is a full-line bakery, making breads, pies, brownies, cookies, wedding cakes, birthday cakes, coffee cakes and white mountain dinner rolls. And of course, doughnuts. And Simmons is the only baker.

From the mid-1960s to about 1972, Taylor said her father operated two other bakeries in Milan and the original site on 30th Street.

“I moved away when I was 23,” Taylor said. “I was gone 23 years, and I just moved back. And I am still seeing customers here from

23 years ago.”

Nikki Schutter owns and operates Eastside Bakery on East 12th Street in Davenport. She makes different types of baked goods, including Danish, cream puffs, cheesecake, tarts, layered cakes and, occasionally, baked doughnuts. She does not fry anything, including doughnuts. “They are more cakey. I use a cake doughnut batter,” she said. “People want the fried stuff. Very few customers like the baked doughnuts. But the kids like them.”

Doug Schorpp can be contacted at (563) 383-2292 or dschorpp@qctimes.com. Comment on this story at qctimes.com.