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Scene in South Bend: Cops & Doughnuts

| Friday, December 2, 2016

cops&doughnutswebJoseph Han | The Observer

Fact: It is probably going to snow this Sunday.

I understand that this message provokes a mixed bag of reactions. If you enjoy the cold weather, you might be enthusiastically seeking out winter-themed activities to pursue. If you, like me, despise the cold, the prospect of snow — not to mention a full week of all sub-40 degree days and the arrival of dreaded wind-chill — might induce mild to severe panic. If you’re really like me, you’ve already started buying wool socks on Amazon and fruitlessly Googling “cheap flights to California.”

Enter Cops & Doughnuts, one of the most recent additions to the downtown South Bend scene, and the perfect answer to all of your cold-weather musings, pessimistic or otherwise. The first word that comes to mind when describing Cops & Doughnuts is “warm.” On the quiet Sunday when I visited our local “precinct,” I walked in and was greeted with a warm, cozy environment laced with the sweet smells of sugar and cinnamon. The friendly employees and the clean, unassuming cases piled with mountains of delicious-looking doughnuts made me feel melty on the inside, similar to the feeling of going home for the holidays or hugging an old friend.

Cops & Doughnuts, a Michiana chain founded in Clare, Michigan, sells handmade doughnuts, pastries and coffee. The bakery opened its doors this past August at its newest location, just a block south of Chicory Cafe and the South Bend Chocolate Company on Michigan Street. The store is the previous site of Dainty Maid Bakery, founded in South Bend in 1928. When Dainty Maid’s owner, David Hab, died last February, the future of the bakery seemed uncertain. Cops & Doughnuts bought the bakery and determined to preserve the spirit and mission of the 88-year-old business — including continuing to make Paczki, a traditional Polish dessert and one of Dainty Maid’s hallmark treats.

The tradition of saving old, historic businesses forms an integral part of the chain’s own history as well. The original Cops & Doughnuts was founded in Clare, Michigan when nine cops banded together to save the Clare City Bakery, a bakery and doughnut shop dating back to 1896. The business, a fixture in the Clare community for over a hundred years, became “Cops & Doughnuts,” a 100-percent cop-owned-and-operated business. In the past two years, Cops & Doughnuts has set up shops in Gaylord, Ludington and Bay City across the state of Michigan. The Dainty Maid Precinct, the most recent branch of the chain to open, is Cops & Doughnut’s first permanent establishment in Indiana.

In light of its connections to local police forces in its home city, each location of Cops & Doughnuts offers cop-themed merchandise decorating the walls of its shop. The Dainty Maid precinct boasts a handwritten letter from South Bend’s own police chief — framed and displayed near the register. Its ties to the local community give the store a particularly homey — not to mention safe — ambiance.

The doughnuts themselves are dependably delicious — my blueberry doughnut, dunked in a steaming cup of “Cops Coffee,” the store’s brand, struck the perfect balance between a satisfying pastry and a crumbly, sugary sweet. I didn’t venture to try one of the store’s specialty doughnuts — two strips of bacon on a cream-filled glazed — but I can vouch for the other classic flavors, including chocolate cake and simple glazed, as solidly excellent.

Cops & Doughnuts, although a year-round treat, provides an especially cozy atmosphere in these chilly upcoming months.

Cops & Doughnuts, The Dainty Maid Precinct is located at 231 S. Michigan St. in downtown South Bend. Its hours are reliable, like a good police officer: 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., every day of the week. This Friday, Cops & Doughnuts will offer their “TV bar,” a chocolate cake with cream filling topped with chocolate ganache, for $2.00 a piece, in celebration of Downtown South Bend’s First Friday of December. The store will be open late, until 10 p.m.

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