If you’re looking to satisfy a sweet tooth, look no further than the Donut Palace and Creative Cookie Kitchen in Ellisville, “Where the Customer is King” but the donuts reign supreme.
The family-owned-and-operated shop has been a West County staple for almost 23 years. Owners Ann and Frank Mahler took over the business in 1994, and their daughter and son-in-law now help manage the shop. In addition to a number of full-time employees, the Mahlers employ high school students, whom they say are some of the best and hardest workers in town.
Despite the fact that the doors open for customers at the unconventional of 3:15 a.m., it is not unusual to have a customer waiting when those doors open. During the school year, the bakery’s busiest days fall on the weekend, but during the summer, the bakery is typically busiest Monday through Friday.
Open or closed, the store buzzes with activity nearly 24 hours a day. Bakers and cookie decorators arrive shortly after closing time to make fresh donuts and cookies on site and prepare for the next day. The Mahlers pride themselves on ensuring their store is fully stocked with customer favorites, logging detailed information on sales to guide which varieties, and how many of each, to prepare for each day, keeping in mind the day of the week or if it is a particular holiday.
“We have our regulars who come in and order the same thing every time,” explained Ann. “We don’t ever want to tell them we sold out of their favorite.”
When National Donut Day arrived earlier this month, the Mahlers ran out of donuts at 9:30 a.m.
“That was something we just couldn’t predict!” Ann exclaimed.
While favorite varieties may differ from person to person, Donut Palace is known for its Long Johns and Apple Fritters.
Apple Fritters pack a wallop of flavor, delivering tastes of cinnamon and fruit alongside the unmistakable, instantly recognizable, sweet taste of a classic donut. Frozen apple fritters are sold on request at a reduced price.
With too many varieties to count, Ann said there’s something for everyone – even the little ones who cannot see over the counter. Those smaller customers receive a free donut hole.
Chocolate Long Johns are legendary, but even die-hard chocolate lovers won’t be able to resist the Palace’s vanilla icing, which generously coats Long Johns, yeast and cake donuts, sometimes sporting festive sprinkles. For those looking for more icing adventure, Donut Palace offers toppings such as peanuts, coconut flakes, crumbled Oreo cookies and caramel bacon. Younger patrons might be enticed by Jolly Ranchers or gummy bears/worms atop their donuts.
The shop offers multiple filling options, too, for yeast and cake donuts, such as raspberry, white cream, custard, chocolate and lemon.
If your go-to sweets are cookies, the shop has you covered with an assortment of traditional favorites, such as chocolate chip, macadamia nut, oatmeal raisin and cranberry. They also offer hand-decorated, taste-as-good-as-they-look sugar cookies. Oftenn hand-crafted cookies look prettier than they taste, but Donut Palace promises both.
No donuts over 24 hours old are ever sold. The Mahlers donate leftovers to local organizations, like homeless shelters, which are on a schedule so that there is no waste.
Special events – a wedding, bar mitzvah, graduation or birthday celebration – become truly special with donut or cookie platters to complement them – and the staff at the Donut Palace and Creative Cookie Kitchen are happy to help.
37 Clarkson Road • Ellisville • (636) 527-2227
Hours: 3:15 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 3:15 a.m.-noon, Sunday