Winchell’s Donut House
Part of the fun of a morning donut run is being able to pick out your favorite flavors on display behind the store counter. But COVID-19 changed the rules, and places like Winchell’s Donut House in south Aurora were forced to think differently about how could continue to serve their customers. This lone Winchell’s location in Aurora has been in the same spot since the early 1970s, and managed today by Samer and Maz Mukayess, Samar was 13 years old when his family purchased the business in 1993 and he helped sweep floors there in the summer. His father still arrives at the shop at 4 a.m. every day, and other family members are involved as well. Their customers also feel like family, some of whom they have know since before they could drive. They’ve made it their mission to give back, donating their sweet treats to many organizations and causes in the community. The arrival of the pandemic was a big blow to the business, and the family scrambled to make changes so they could keep selling donuts. They added a large exterior window to allow people outside to see the employees making donuts, developed a mobile app for curbside orders, and partnered with delivery services to expand their reach. Through it all, they maintained their staff of nine and provided support to the ones in need. Beyond surviving, they are stronger than ever and looking ahead to the future, with plans to renovate in the next 12 to 18 months.