By Felicia Naoum
This location may be hard to find at first, but don’t let that stop you. Secluded and not easily seen from the road lies what owner, Betty Lou Johnson, of Olde School Donuts & Bakery calls “The Best Kept Secret.” And it didn’t take me long to realize the same. It truly was love at first “smell” and then again love at first “bite”. But even before the smell and bite, I knew this place was a gem just from pulling up to it. Appearance can mean more than you think. A home style, “olde school” feel is what you get upon entering Olde School Donuts & Bakery. That alone will make you want more. Once the door of this quaint little shop opens, the smell will blow you away – a smell that Betty says is the first thing that gets the customers. It’s a smell of freshness, sweetness, and pure happiness all in one.
More importantly though, aside from the smell and look of all the delightful sweet treats, aligned for show in a shiny glass case, is the service. “Olde school” manners and hospitality are offered by Betty. Betty’s mantra is: “The customer is always right and you have to accommodate them as much as you can.” She makes you feel at home. She also patiently describes what each treat is made of when you ask. For someone who calls herself her husband’s “sidekick”, she sure knows what she’s doing. I mean, she gave me a black raspberry jelly filled-donut to try – of course, she knows what she’s doing! Not to mention, this donut contained everything you would hope for – rich, bold filling that oozes out of moist and fresh dough.
Betty was (and still is) along for a sweet ride as her husband, Keith Johnson, was the first of the two to get involved in the donut making business. Keith’s influence came from visiting his friend who owned a bakery in Bedford, Ohio. Keith would constantly visit his friend at the bakery and started learning the ropes. Forty-five years later, with many fairs, farm markets, and festivals in between, that allowed Keith and his wife to master the art of donut making, brings us to Olde School Donuts & Bakery, which is Keith’s former plastic shop.
When asking Betty the best part of owning a bakery, she says it’s: “The people’s reactions.” She further explains that the customers sometimes act like “a kid in a candy store!” When you have baklava and peanut butter cookies as high selling items, it’s fitting to see how “a kid in a candy store” fits her description.
You may wonder what makes Olde School Donuts & Bakery different from other bakeries. Your answer is all in the name. It’s all about baking with your hands, instead of a machine, that set Betty and Keith apart. Betty says by using your hands, “The texture of the donut is entirely different.” And after one bite of my black raspberry jelly-filled donut, I knew exactly what she meant. Another fact that sets this bakery apart is that the donuts are made fresh each morning or in the middle of the night. You will not be getting days old items at this location.
When you’ve had a donut at Olde School, you just know the rest of the treats there will be just as delicious.
So, do yourself a “flavor” you won’t forget and pull up to 102 East Aurora Road in Northfield, Ohio Wednesday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Or simply call the bakery at 330-467-4814 for any questions or order inquires. “Like” them on Facebook as well – Olde School Donuts and Bakery – a bakery that will remind you that “old days” don’t have to be past, and can taste just as sweet as they always were.
All photos by Victor Milani