In the mid-’80s, a shop opened in the strip plaza at James and Burlington Streets called Robin’s Doughnuts. They didn’t sell Timbits. Their little balls of deep-fried dough were called Robin’s Eggs.
At one time, there were five Robin’s in the area. But in the city that gave birth to the mighty Hortons, the little chain shrunk to one – the shop on James Street North.
And the guy who had that outlet decided it didn’t make sense to be paying franchise fees to Robin’s anymore. He pulled down the sign and called his place Bayside Cafe and Doughnuts. But in the summer of 2006, his ship sank.
The next year, along came Grandad’s Donuts, brainchild of a guy named Scott Whipps. Many years before, he’d been a baker. Whipps had grand plans to franchise the Grandad’s concept. He opened one at Delta Bingo downtown in 2009. But for various reasons, that didn’t work out.
And in recent years, he had turned over the James North Grandad’s to another operator. But that did not run smoothly, and this summer the doors closed again. Grandad is back in the saddle, and he’s baking up the now-rare orange twist. (Paul Wilson/CBC)
This fall, however, there’s a sign out by the street announcing that Grandad’s is back, with original owners. At the counter when we stop by is Samantha Whipps, daughter of owners Scott and Barb.
She says business is good. This is different style and concept. There is actually a counter at which you can sit, equipped with six old-style stools. On the wall, there’s a TV. People sit in the booths and visit and of course, read a copy of The North End Breezes.
The big difference is that here the doughnuts are made right on the premises, at three in the morning, either by baker Curtis Mitchell or by Samantha’s mother. You can still get an orange twist here. Or something from the “fancies” tray, like a whipped-cream laden bowtie or chocolate eclair. When I stopped by, Grandad’s had just sold their last orange twist. So, I got a Canadian maple. It was divine – bigger, fresher and tastier.
People from all over the city visit Grandad’s. The overall opinion is that “they are the best. That many people can’t be wrong! In addition to making fabulous treats, Grandad’s has proven themselves to be great supporters of the North End. Every month, they provide coffee and donuts to the team of volunteers that help bring you our community newspaper. that Go, Grandad, go and welcome home!