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New owner makes progress toward the reopening of Detroit’s historic Dutch Girl Donuts

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A Detroit culinary institution is on the road to revival as Dutch Girl Donuts on Woodward gets ready to open this spring under new ownership.

As reported in November, the shop has been purchased by Detroit businessman and lifelong customer Paddy Lynch. He’s been working on shoring up the building and plans to reopen with a few longstanding staff members in place, including the founders’ grandson Jon Timmer.

There’s no opening date set yet, but with some updates and vignettes being posted to Instagram, the public’s interest is fully piqued.

“My hope is to open by the end of March, if not March then certainly some time in April,” Lynch told The Detroit News, adding that he’s waiting on some new equipment. Before he purchased the building at 19000 Woodward from the Timmer family, it had been burglarized a few times and some plumbing was stripped.

“Nothing that can’t be replaced or fixed,” he said. “But it sets you back.”

Lynch is no stranger to renovations on older Detroit buildings, of course. He’s the owner of an Eastern European-style bath house in Detroit, the Schvitz. He’s also a funeral director with the family business, Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors.

“Compared to a dilapidated bath house that’s 10 times as large (as Dutch Girl), it’s not too overwhelming,” he said, adding that the bath house and funeral businesses are very hospitality-forward, and he wants Dutch Girl to be that way, too, but also be efficient and produce the high-quality product Metro Detroiters have grown to love.

When Dutch Girl does reemerge, Lynch hopes customers will notice the details, like the polished terrazzo floors and the lovely, natural light the space gets. He’s also planning to team up with Highland Park neighbors Becharas Brothers Coffee Co. for a “Dutch Girl blend” and possibly some locally made ice cream.

Unlike pre-pandemic years, Dutch Girl won’t be open 24-hours at first.

“My hope is to start lean and mean and have a really good team that isn’t huge, but qualified and capable, and people know,” he said, adding that it’s not feasible to start at 24 hours, but it could happen in the next year or two.

While prepping Dutch Girl for its return to serving glazed, jelly-filled and sugar-dusted confections, Lynch has said the response has been “energizing and exciting” with so many people happy to see this historic, 77-year-old business revived.

“Compared to funerals, which can obviously be depressing and stressful, it’s so light-hearted and there’s a nostalgia about the place. I’ll be directing a funeral in church and someone will come up to be and be like ‘where are the donuts,’ or the guys at the Schvitz …. they are really excited to have donuts at the Schvitz,” said Lynch, adding that he’s personally excited, too.

“My whole life in Michigan has been up and down Woodward, since I was a kid I’ve always lived near Woodward, I’ve been commuting up Woodward for the last 13 years, so it’s sort of part of my DNA to drive by Dutch Girl a few times a day and I think there’s a lot of people like that. It’s cool.”

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

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