Donut Bank: Celebrating 45 Years of Tasty Traditions

Donut Bank serves up more than just coffee and donuts every day; the team serves up smiles. For three generations the family-owned and -operated bakery has churned out the highest quality donuts, long johns, coffee cakes and cookies, using a proprietary recipe that has changed little, if at all, since the 1967 founding. Today, Donut Bank’s eight locations serve between 500 to 600 customers every morning at the drive-through alone, providing a taste of Old World goodness that leaves taste buds happy and customers smiling.

“We believe the customer is the primary focus of our business, and we believe it’s our duty to work on their behalf as much as we can,” asserts Chris Kempf, president of Donut Bank. It is hard to believe that Donut Bank started out with just one location in Evansville, Ind. Donut Bank now operates a total of six locations in Evansville, as well as one location in Princeton, Ind., and one in Newburgh, Ind.

Kempf describes the Donut Bank concept as part coffee shop and part bakery, but neither concept really encapsulates the breadth of products Donut Bank offers. The company serves up donuts, cookies, pastries, bagels, coffee, every kind of espresso drink imaginable and even protein shakes. Donut Bank also sells tiered wedding cakes, birthday cakes and celebration cakes. However, Donut Bank offers cake flavors beyond the standard white, yellow and chocolate. The team presents cakes in classic American flavors like red velvet, carrot cake, strawberry and lemon, with icing flavors that include buttercream, cream cheese and lemon. Additionally, the connoisseurs at Donut Bank can produce cakes decorated with images printed with edible ink, including licensed cake decorations featuring Justin Bieber and Hannah Montana, among many others.

Donut Bank takes pride in upholding its traditions, but the company has maintained a current edge in the market where it matters most. Every location offers free Wi-Fi to customers in addition to exceptional quality and service.

Serving Up Smiles

“We have also invested heavily to update our equipment in recent years, but our facility is already bursting at the seams,” adds Kempf. Production takes place at Donut Bank’s 11,000-square foot bakery in Evansville, Ind., where the team still uses the same recipe to make its famous long johns and honey-glazed donuts as it did in 1967. The only thing that has changed in the recipe in 45 years of donut making was the removal of all trans fats. Likewise, coffee cakes, pastries and baked goods are all made using the recipes that made Donut Bank an Evansville attraction in its own right. Many products are still hand-shaped and decorated every morning.

The company also sells a proprietary roast of Donut Bank coffee with the help of a private-label packager. “Our coffee program has evolved over the years, but we have stuck with the same roaster for over 22 years,” says Kempf.

Of course, Donut Bank has never been afraid to pursue new products in hopes of making customers even happier. “Our business is built on taste, and if it doesn’t taste good, we’re not going to sell it,” states Kempf. The latest addition to Donut Bank’s menu is all-natural oatmeal, which Donut Bank locations began serving in November 2011. The oatmeal serves as a hearty, whole grain-loaded compliment to Donut Bank’s breakfast indulgences. In true Donut Bank form, though, the product will be available in flavors that don’t veer too far away from the company’s classic flavor profiles, with flavors like almond and maple that are sure to satisfy.

Quality First and Forever

In the next few years Donut Bank could pursue further growth, though Kempf is clear that expansion will never come at the cost of the company’s reputation. “I think the biggest challenge to our expansion is to duplicate the freshness and taste of our current product,” admits Kempf. “Sure, there are shortcuts we could take to expand, but we will never do anything to risk our reputation as a quality-driven company.”

The Kempf family upholds decades in the tradition of pursuing expansion only when financially responsible. Kempf maintains that Donut Bank owns almost all of its locations and has always shied away from leasing properties.

Whether or not Donut Bank chooses to open a ninth location, the Kempf family appears to be far from done with running the company. Kempf and brothers Ben and Joe, vice presidents of Donut Bank, oversee executive management. The third-generation oversees other managerial responsibilities.

“I started frying donuts when I was 12, and have worked here nearly all my life,” chuckles Kempf. “I did encourage my kids to pursue other professional opportunities, because it’s hard work. At the same time, it’s a very attractive place to work because we’re a family company with great employees who all work toward the same goals.”

In the interest of financial security, Kempf has expressed some interest in pursuing franchising as a mode of growth, which would allow the company to extend its geographical footprint without sacrificing the quality of its products either. Franchising is still on the table for consideration at the moment and, regardless of how the cards fall, Donut Bank’s family feel and reputation for serving up some of the best baked goods in Indiana will have customers lining up around the block for years to come.