Even though years have passed since it closed down, many local residents vividly recall the donut shop that existed in downtown Houston, and memories of it pop up in conversation with relative frequency.
But this week, downtown donuts are no longer just a memory.
Houston resident Don Collins and his friend and business partner Dawn Kaufman earlier this year opened Memories and Dreams Antiques and Collectibles, a store on Grand Avenue that offers a variety of new and used items and other services. The duo recently added another downtown business to their collection by acquiring Twist and Shake, an eating establishment across the street best known for its soft serve ice cream.
The name was changed to Simply Sweets Ice Cream Treats and More, and as of Monday of this week, the “more” category includes is freshly made fried yeast donuts. Fans of the old donut shop will be interested in knowing that Collins has been working with its owners, Larry and Charlene Goslee, and is using the same mix they did.
“They told me where to get it,” Collins said. “We’ll start out with just glazed for a couple of weeks until I get my feet completely under me on that, then I’ll go into adding the different toppings and fillings.”
Collins said he’s received valuable mentoring from his predecessors.
“They really want to see this succeed, and I’ve gotten a lot of guidance from Larry,” he said. “He came down and worked with me one day and gave me a lot of tips. I’m using the same recipe, but it will taste different because I’m using different equipment. And of course, no two people are going to make the exact same product.”
Simply Sweets will continue to offer soft serve ice cream in vanilla, chocolate or a “twist” that combines the two. Collins also serves up sweet tooth favorites like flurries, banana splits, fresh baked cookies and a variety of shakes, but there are plenty of savory items, too, like hand-pattied burgers, fries, sandwiches, chili dogs, burritos and even stuffed soft pretzels.
Hot items are available any time.
“If the doors are open, I’m cooking,” Collins said.
Collins plans to add frozen yogurt to the menu, and will soon start making funnel cakes in the afternoon. And within the next couple of months he’ll have a machine that can inject flavors into vanilla ice cream.
“You’ll be able to get a caramel, strawberry or cotton candy cone,” Collins said. “Those are three flavors I know we’ll have, and there’s nobody else around that I know of who offers that.”
Collins’ vision for Simply Sweets is for it to become a downtown safe haven for young people. He has stocked the store with video games, and plans to eventually add karaoke on weekends.
“Part of my goal in opening this was to give kids the option of a place where they could go without getting in trouble,” he said.
Collins also has a vision for the whole downtown area to regain a position in the forefront of local residents’ minds. Among other things, he would like to see music in the plaza, and intends to host car shows.
“I really want to see it reestablished back to the grandeur it once enjoyed,” Collins said. “We want to see it grow. I remember how things used to be downtown and I know what it can be.”
Simply Sweets hosts the Houston Downtown Cruise In motorcycle events on the third Thursday of each month from April through September. Hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 6 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“I’m not really set on the weekend closing time yet,” Collins said. “It will depend on what the kids are doing.”
Simply Sweets’ phone number is 417-967-2020.