MUNSTER | Longtime and new customers continue to stream into the Munster Donut parking lot a week after the longtime business had to close after a customer accidentally drove a car through the building, causing structural damage.
That loyalty is what owners and sisters Elaine Butynski and Jo Ellen Aleksandrovich said is sustaining them as they work to get the damage repaired and the doors open again.
“We’re making lemonade out of lemons. The contractor and the insurance company are handling it with us,” Butynski said.
“Our loyal customers, including the churches in this area, have sustained us. We have three generations of customers coming here,” she said. “We want them to know we will open again. Our goal is to re-open in two to three weeks."
The sisters bought the business in 2000 from original owner Donald Coleman and maintained the 24-hour-a-day schedule, only closing on major holidays.
Coleman started what was then called Mister Donut at 8314 Calumet Ave. in December 1969. He still works at the shop making the shop’s signature pastries, Butynski said.
Returning Munster Donut to vitality is very much a labor of love, said Aleksandrovich, who began working at the shop at the age of 15, nearly 40 years ago.
“This was my first and only job, except delivering The Hammond Times,” she said.
According to Munster Police Lt. Edward Strbjak, an 82-year old Munster woman thought she was stepping on the brake, but hit the gas pedal just before 11 a.m. May 7.
Her car hit the brick wall on the south side of the building where the baking area is located, Strybjak said. The force of the crash damaged a structural support wall and damaged the entire baking area.
“She comes here every day, seven days a week,” Butynski said of the woman. “We’re very grateful that she wasn’t hurt and that no one here was hurt.”
Signs on the windows of Munster Donut announce the closing and the cause, but customers continue to show up.
On Wednesday, dozens of long-time and new customers arrived at Munster Donut.
Carla Holloway, of Dyer, said she was going to surprise her 76-year old mother with a bag of apple fritters, one of Munster Donut's classics.
“I started coming here last year and my mother came here about a month ago,” Holloway said. “No one else makes apple fritters with chunks of real apples.”
John Pritchard, of Munster, said, “I’m heart-broken” when he learned that Munster Donut was closed for those repairs.
“I can’t live long without my doughnuts,” he said. “I especially like the maple one. Those are good for your health.”