The Original House of Donuts continues to do what it has done for decades: Make the best donuts in the world.
And where are the best donuts in the world made? Why, right here in Lakewood, at the same spot where generations of locals have trekked for sweet, sugary goodness.
In 1959, the Original House of Donuts (OHOD) started with a secret recipe guarded heavily by owners, Bob and Marilyn Cheatham. When Bob passed away in 2003, Marilyn carried on with the tradition. As time passed, and through a number of managers and staff, things took a donut downhill, and the products and property slipped. Then, in late 2012, Mrs. Cheatham decided it was time to pass the torch.
Enter longtime donut-lover Tom Peterson. This Lakewood native, who moved out of state for a bit but returned and was looking for an opportunity, purchased the business, property and neighboring parcel in December 2012. A local with big dreams, Tom was looking for a new challenge, a way to make a difference for the community.
There was no better way to do so than restore OHOD back to its original grandeur and expand to share these great donuts with more people.
The vintage donut house is the last of its kind. Leading a team of about 20 eager employees, Tom & Co. not only restored the product back to the original recipes, they are creating a number of new products that have never been seen, eaten or tasted before.
Traditional cake and raised-yeast donuts are original and made by hand. All the donuts are made in-house. Many of the vendors are local, providing unique products and ingredients, right down to the flavored bacon – a special recipe - for the bacon maple bars.
“We will never change our donuts,” Tom pledges. “They will always be made from scratch, with the highest quality products, by hand and served fresh everyday.”
New product development (in addition to traditional donuts) has been moved to their new kitchen next door. OHOD plans to remodel “The House” with one foot in the past and one foot in future (“vintage-modern,” they call it). The iconic roof will remain, but the inside will be modernized with the same double drive-through, only bigger to accommodate larger vehicles. Today there is no inside seating, but California-style outside seating is planned for the location.
Recognizing its own popularity, OHOD didn’t simply settle on bringing the original location into the 21st Century. It has also gone mobile. Its Holy Roller donut event truck is driven by, what else, a character named Do-Dough, whose costume, er, body shape is akin to a big, pink hairy gorilla. As you might imagine, he is a major attraction at events alongside these great donuts.
The number of donuts the Holy Roller can hold: 7,000.
OHOD loves doing events. This summer, they sponsored the Lakewood SummerFEST and Triathlon. They attend a car show every weekend. You can catch OHOD at military events and festivals at Tacoma’s Wright Park. They even served 600 people at the Hot Rod Hall of Fame Dinner. At that dinner, organizers actually had to ask them to hide the donuts during the Hall of Fame so people wouldn’t eat them all before the main course.
OHOD also makes specialty donuts. For example, the team prepared googly eyed and spider-webbed donuts for the Pierce County Asylum haunted house.
“Donuts are the best treat. Everyone loves a great donut,” Tom explains. “If you’re having a bad day a donut can bring a smile to your face, great therapy for under $1. And if you’re having a great day… treat yourself.”
Need something to wash down all that sugary goodness? Try some of OHOD’s java, which in itself is somewhat quirky. The coffeemaker, which the crew affectionately calls “Bob,” once brewed coffee off an old battleship. “It may not be the best coffee,” Tom says, “but it’s for sure the hottest in Lakewood.”
Although the OHOD crew has their share of laughs and fun (they are making sugary donuts, after all), they work hard to keep costs down and provide a great value. They believe in world-class personal service, long-term relationships and working together.
They also want to promote Lakewood. For example, leftovers are donated to the FISH food bank. One of their big ideas is to create a food truck night right here, maybe once a month on a Friday night, encouraging people to come to Lakewood, spend time and enjoy one another’s company. “It could easily bring 500 to 700 people,” Tom says.
Clients come from across the Puget Sound: Olympia, Puyallup, University Place, Tacoma, DuPont, South Hill, even Bellevue. People travel well over an hour to bite into one of its sweet, brightly colored creations. Fourth- and fifth-generation customers - the ones who’ve been buying donuts here since the 1960’s - are happy to see these treats restored back to their original quality and splendor. And, OHOD is on the list for tour bus operators that come to Lakewood.
They also have gift cards, specialty cause T-Shirts like Breast Cancer Awareness and The Wounded Warrior Project, and free stickers.
So if you want a real donut – one made with quality in mind rather than quantity – check out the Original House of Donuts in Lakewood. “And if you haven’t visited us in awhile, please stop in and say ‘Hi,’” Tom says
Open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week - 9638 Gravelly Lake Drive SW, Lakewood WA
“We love being here in Lakewood – the Original House of Donuts Headquarters”