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Jones' Donuts Celebrates 100 Sweet Years in Rutland

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Published July 11, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated July 12, 2023 at 12:02 p.m.


Owners Lynn (in pink) and Walt Manney (far right) with Jones' Donuts staff - JON OLENDER
  • Jon Olender
  • Owners Lynn (in pink) and Walt Manney (far right) with Jones' Donuts staff

In 1923, the year that Calvin Coolidge became the second Vermonter to serve as U.S. president, Florence and Richard Jones started selling doughnuts on Terrill Street in Rutland. They distributed puffy circles of fried dough and other sweets on a quiet street in the bustling city then known as the marble capital of the country for its vast quarries.

Today, the marble industry has faded, but Jones' Donuts and Bakery is still going strong, having weathered the Great Depression (and Recession), World War II, the Rutland flood of 1947, and a global pandemic. Now on West Street about two blocks from its original location, the doughnut shop marks its 100th anniversary this month — a testament to the longevity that an irresistible product and a devoted following can provide to a small business in Vermont.

The current owners still bake their goods fresh five days a week, and both longtime and first-time customers swear by the taste, texture and general delightfulness of the doughnuts.

Glazed doughnuts - JON OLENDER
  • Jon Olender
  • Glazed doughnuts

The selection of mostly yeast-made treats sticks to the basics. They're airy and squishy, collapsing under a bite and expanding back to shape like a down pillow. The sugar glaze adds a sweet crispness, while the maple glaze delivers the authenticity of real syrup. Filled doughnuts encase generous amounts of fruit or cream. Jones' also offers a French cruller and an old-fashioned cake style similar to a cider doughnut.

What's changed at the bakery in 100 years? "To my knowledge, nothing," Lynn Manney said laconically. She has owned Jones' Donuts for the past decade with her husband, Walt. "I believe the recipes are the original recipes."

The prices likely started at a few cents a century ago. But even today, as inflation has increased the prices of flour and eggs, a Jones' doughnut costs just $1.50.

Only the fourth owners of the bakery, the Manneys also own and operate Sugar & Spice, a popular breakfast and lunch eatery in Mendon. "It is our goal to give people the best customer service we possibly can," Lynn Manney said.

That means rising early. Jones' Donuts is open from 5 a.m. to noon, Wednesday through Sunday, and some days has lines at the door or the drive-up window before the front cases are even stocked.

Manney, 58, arrives at the shop at 2 a.m. to mix and roll out the dough, hand-cut it, and put the circular pastries in a proof box, where heat and moisture activate the yeast to make them rise. Then they hit the fryer and are set aside to cool for glazing or powdering and filling.

By the time she left the shop at 7 a.m. on a Saturday in early July to head to Sugar & Spice, Manney had produced 142 dozen doughnuts. The staff might make more after she leaves to meet demand. Walt helps in the bakery until about 10 a.m., when he starts his job in sales for the local Alderman's Chevrolet dealership.

Ethan Hall shaping doughnuts - JON OLENDER
  • Jon Olender
  • Ethan Hall shaping doughnuts

Jones' Donuts has a few simple tables, a couple of colorful doughnut paintings on the walls, carafes of brewed New England Coffee, a Coca-Cola cooler of drinks and a small boom box playing country music. In recent weeks, the bakery set up a wire rack and a table to sell T-shirts commemorating its century-long milestone.

Bethany Solari — a 16-year-old Rutland High School student whose mother and grandmother both worked at the bakery before her — listed the filled-doughnut varieties for each customer: blueberry, apple, lemon, black raspberry, chocolate, maple cream, coconut cream and Boston cream. "Usually, anything maple that we have is pretty popular," she said.

Jones' Donuts also offers loaves of fresh-baked white bread, cookies, turnovers, muffins, swirled elephant ears, pie squares, cinnamon rolls and fritters. The last two are almost as popular and quick to sell out as the doughnuts.

"Oh, my gosh, this is hard," said Penelope Harrold, 15, as she stood at the counter studying the options. She and her family spend summers in Vermont and, at home in Connecticut, don't live near an independent doughnut place.

"This is not Dunkin' Donuts," confirmed her mother, Michelle Harrold, describing Jones' versions as "homemade, large and fresh." Her daughter added, "They're really sugary."

Bill Bloomer, 71, a retired Rutland attorney, spends many of his Saturday mornings at a table in the doughnut shop. "I like a place I can come and sit down and relax," he said, holding a crossword puzzle. "They usually see me walk through the door, and they've got the maple glazed out."

Customers appreciate that attentiveness, Manney said: "They like to be remembered. They like to know that you've paid attention."

Kristen Eddy, who grew up in Rutland and now lives in Burlington, cheered when her boyfriend moved from Killington to an apartment two blocks away from Jones' Donuts. Once a ritual Sunday stop for her family after church, the bakery even catered the desserts for her sister's wedding, Eddy said.

"They're light and fluffy," she said of the doughnuts. She usually opts for the glazed. "And then I always get the Boston cream. Every bite you take will have cream in it."

Rutland Herald story from March 1981 - COURTESY OF JEANNIE MOSCATELLO
  • Courtesy Of Jeannie Moscatello
  • Rutland Herald story from March 1981

The origins of Jones' Donuts are a bit ambiguous. Some accounts, including a 1981 Rutland Herald piece, date the founding of the business as 1924, though the newspaper moved it back a year in subsequent articles. And depending on who's telling the story, Florence Jones started by either selling doughnuts door-to-door or from a corner on Terrill Street before opening the shop.

Allan Foy, the grandson of the founders, took over Jones' Donuts in the 1940s and ran it for about 42 years. He and his wife, Jean, lived above the bakery on Terrill Street.

Charles and Jeannie Moscatello became the first Jones' Donuts owners outside the family when they bought the shop in 1989. Foy gave them his grandmother's original recipe notebook, which Jeannie still has, she said. She and Charlie, who died in 2020, watched Foy make the dough and tried their best to follow his imprecise measurements.

"It wasn't easy getting a recipe out of Allan Foy," Moscatello said, recalling that he'd give instructions like, "just a little bit of this and a little bit of that" or "a handful of flour."

Since then, they have closely guarded the Jones' method. "We never let anybody see those recipes," Moscatello said. "They were in our heads. That was the moneymaker."

The Moscatellos outgrew the Terrill Street space, which by then needed an update. In 1996, they moved Jones' Donuts into the old Carpenter's Pharmacy building at West and Nichols streets, a location with steady traffic. Moscatello insisted they add a drive-through window on the eastern side.

"If Dunkin' Donuts can have a drive-through," she recalled telling her husband, "I can have a drive-through."

Lynn and Walt Manney - JON OLENDER
  • Jon Olender
  • Lynn and Walt Manney

The Manneys, who raised their two children in Rutland, had enjoyed plenty of Jones' Donuts before they stepped up to buy it from the Moscatellos. "We knew they were looking to retire," Manney said. "At that point, the business had been around for 90 years. You don't want to see something with longevity like that not continue."

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Jones' Donuts closed along with Sugar & Spice for almost two months. The drive-through window was a big plus, enabling the shop to resume selling doughnuts before any indoor eateries could go back to serving.

"As soon as we reopened, they were back," Manney said of customers. "They were back at the window, backing up traffic on the road."

The pandemic hardly slowed the momentum at Jones' Donuts, she said. With room for more staff, the bakery could boost production and meet ever-expanding demand.

"We have seen our business grow tremendously in the last 10 years, almost to the point where our kitchen is not big enough," Manney said. "We have to kind of stay within our four walls."

Lyn Des Marais shouted out "Congratulations!" as she swung open the bakery door, noticing the 100th-anniversary banner out front. She bought a box of a dozen doughnuts for the crew working on her Brandon farm. "It's the filled ones that they especially love," she explained.

Des Marais, 61, marveled that a small business built on baked goods could last through decades of low-fat, no-carb health crazes, not to mention economic challenges.

"They make doughnuts," she said, "and doughnuts have somehow survived."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Doughnut Dynasty | Jones' Donuts celebrates 100 sweet years in Rutland"

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