Crawling for charity

The Twin Cities Donut Crawl sold roughly 1,000 tickets and will donate $3,000 to charity.

Jackie Renzetti

This weekend, 1,000 donut fanatics will participate in the first Twin Cities Donut Crawl.

The sold-out pastry party, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, came from humble beginnings.

Last December, Angie King and Randy Kowlessar, two of the four masterminds behind the project, organized an event dubbed “Sugar Slam” for about ten friends to visit different donut shops and discuss each treat. The other two crawl organizers, Jason Westplate and Bill Svoboda, were in attendance.

“We had a lot of donut lovers in our group,” Westplate said. “It was just a fun way to get out and do something that was a little bit different, but not that crazy.”

Their second Sugar Slam in June had roughly 20 attendees, and King said their custom T-shirts and postings on social media gained even more attention for the idea.

King and Westplate said that based on the positive response, the group saw potential for expanding the event. Westplate said that since he and Svodba have business backgrounds while Kowlessar and King have experience in public relations, the four made the perfect team.

Westplate said that media attention skyrocketed attendance, surprising the organizers and shop owners.

“It blew up way more than we ever, ever anticipated it would,” King said. “We were shooting for 200 people … and it just exploded.”


From the start, the organizers wanted the crawl to have more attendees and a stronger purpose — to raise funds for charity.

“It’s not just a novelty,” Westplate said. “The donuts are great, but we’re giving to charity and we want that to be a big component.”

The morning of the event at registration, Mel-O-Glaze will provide a giant rectangular donut as a “check” from the donut crawl made out to Second Harvest Heartland food bank.

King previously worked for an after-school program for low-income families that used snacks provided by Second Harvest.

“I got to see firsthand exactly what they were doing in our community and how helpful it really is,” King said, “That was probably why they were our top choice.”

Their donation of $3,000 will provide funds for over 9,000 meals, said Mary Sutherland of Second Harvest.

Planning for pastries

The cofounders selected the three shops for their proximity and because Mel-O-Glaze and A Baker’s Wife have both previously won City Pages awards for best doughnuts. They also wanted to highlight Bogart’s, which opened last May.

“[The owners] kind of laugh about how no one even goes into their shop anymore to try their products, they just hand them the award every year,” Westplate said. “If they’re said to be the best, we want to get peoples’ opinions on those.”

Though representatives from each shop echoed King’s amazement at the crawl’s expansion, they said their respective businesses have a game plan.

Caleb Garn of Five Watt Coffee said they plan on spending two and a half hours to brew coffee for roughly 500 people both mornings.

For donut shops, this strategy involves late-night work, which isn’t too far from the norm. Each shop owner said they make their donuts in the early morning on a daily basis for maximum freshness, and the crawl is no exception.

“Well, we’re just going to make more donuts than usual,” said Drew Parker, a cashier at A Baker’s Wife. Parker said the only abnormality is that the process will likely begin at 10 p.m. the nights prior to the two crawl days.

Anne Rucker, owner of Bogart’s Doughnut Co., said that staff will start frying at midnight of both mornings, and Paulette Wood, manager of Mel-O-Glaze, said they will likely begin at 2 a.m.

“We’re [going to] max out our space and just fry a lot longer and just keep trying,” Rucker said.

Wood said Mel-O-Glaze has experience providing donuts for crowds, since the Twin Cities Marathon route brings in spectators and they have made donuts for schools or fundraisers in the past.

“Mel-O-Glaze is used to putting out 1,000 or 2,000 donuts at a crack,” she said.

As a trick of the trade, she said it helps to “bring in a few people for a short time” to alternate the responsibility.

If all goes well, the cofounders hope to repeat the crawl in the spring with different donut shops and a repeated focus on charity.

“Donuts are fun, but donuts are kind of that food luxury — you don’t ever really need a donut even if you really, really want a donut,” Westplate said. “Food isn’t a luxury. …. We’re gonna eat donuts, we’re gonna have a great time, but we’re also gonna give to charity.”


   What: Twin Cities Donut Crawl

   Where: Roosevelt High School, 4029 S. 28th Ave., Minneapolis

   When: 9:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

   Cost: $25-65 [SOLD OUT]