Chuck’s Do-Nuts: Two Perspectives

Cliff Whitehouse:

Sometimes, you want the glass window painted “Chuck’s Donuts,” the spring-slammed screen door, the poorly-drawn dinosaur on the smoke-yellowed walls, the curled Polaroids, the cathedral-high ceiling and time-tortured floor, veterans astride rusty barstools, the unseen Chinese baker and his unseen recipe… the psychic struggles of AA contestants bleeding through from the meeting next door, the throwback-bad coffee from the never-washed pot, the carcasses of printed news strewn across the burned and scarred linoleum tables, dads and daughters staring into the display, pointing their choices, the gregarious Downs man (always glazed raised) and his mom (always jelly-filled), the high-octane circus-barker owner, the wall-eyed cashier who lived in a haunted house… the percussion of the cash register, the small talk and mumblings about politics, injustice, weasels in Washington, the senseless violence of the front page… the friend with a cicada practical joke, the plastic letters on the plastic board—sign and prices unchanged in forty years… the membership of stepping into the kitchen, past the WWII-vintage dough machine with the arm-ripping kneaders, navigating the stacks of trays, the sacks of flour, the cool grease to access the primitive toilet… trading low cholesterol to be part of the family…

Sometimes, you just want a donut.

Chuck’s, requiescat in pace.

Daniel Weinshenker:

Everybody has a thing.
For some people it’s a bar.
For others it’s church.
Me and Cliffy, we had Chuck’s.
We’d go on stray mornings over the past five years or so – ever since I moved into the neighborhood. No reason why. Just to do it, I guess. I’d show up, sit on a stool, fiddle with the newspaper and point to an applesauce special. Chuck, who the place was not named after, would set it on the counter on a piece of tissue paper. Cliff would show up and start eating mine, which was ok…because I’d like to think I’m ok with sharing.
Besides, I don’t even like donuts. They’re disgusting, really.

I’ll get fat on ‘em, but Cliff hasn’t been able to put on a pound since he got a nasty case of amoebic dysentery at Hooters. But I’d show up anyway, and Cliff would bring his own coffee in because the coffee there was awful, and we’d sit and talk…to each other, to the guy with down syndrome and his grandmother, sometimes to Chuck behind the counter. We were frequents, and we had a card to prove it – though we never redeemed it.

We went through apple fritters and Cliffy starting his woodshop, raised glazed and me quitting my dumb job, old fashioneds and the intricacies of how to catch woodpeckers.

And now we don’t.

Chuck’s closed a couple years back – a casualty of the war on I-25, though some have flung around rumors of krispy kreme world domination, health code violations and back taxes. Can’t say we were surprised.

I thought I wouldn’t miss it, but I do of course. Not the donuts, but the thing.

So, if you see two guys wandering the streets with a chewed up Frisbee, nice-fitting pants and a sense of longing…don’t be afraid…it’s just me and Cliffy looking for a place to be, a new thing, a place to redeem our card. Anywhere will do.

Chuck\'s Do-Nuts was located at 614 E. Kentucky in West Washington Park from 1948 to 2003.

Chuck's Do-Nuts was located at 614 E. Kentucky in Washington Park from 1948 to 2003.

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5 Responses to Chuck’s Do-Nuts: Two Perspectives

  1. kathy conrad says:

    Is this the place that was on Pearl Street and Kentucky? I soooo want to know how “chuck” made the frosting for his donuts. Pineapple, cherry, coconut, orange. Never found any like them.

  2. Jessa Gregier says:

    I loved reading this! I was one of those “Dads and daughters”- my Dad would take me once a week. We’d look at everything, but always get the same thing- an apple fritter or a long john, not cream filled. Dad would get the bad coffee and the opposite of whatever I would get, because he knew I’d want a bite.

  3. Katie says:

    I was one of the daughters who went with my dad as well. I would go to Chuck’s many times when Dan was the owner. The cream filled Long John doughnuts were my favorite. My dad went to Chuck’s everyday and a few of our dogs would come along and sit outside the shop to wait for their daily doughnut. Great childhood memories :)

  4. Dan says:

    Just to set the record straight, this is Dan, the circus barker and last purveyor of Chuck’s Donuts at Pearl and Kentucky. September 11th 2001 decreased my wholesale delivery accounts by over 70% overnight. A couple months later the Southeast corridor contractors, what people remember as T-Rex road construction, closed the exits off the highway at Downing,Emerson and Washington to widen I-25 , that was my second 9/11 which took over 70% of my retail business. We could have recovered from one of those events happening, but with business down 70% overall, Unfortunately, I was never able to recover from those two events and had to close Chuck’s Do-Nuts permanently January 2004. 614 East Kentucky is now a pilates studio. Go check her out, I hear she puts on a good class and will lose you a few pounds that the donuts may have put on. After almost 50 years as a donut shop it may still have a lingering smell of a glazed donut deep into your workout. The irony is not lost on me. Cheers to a good run while it lasted……Circus barker Dan…..

  5. Dan says:

    Just to set the record straight, this is Dan, the circus barker and last purveyor of Chuck’s Donuts at Pearl and Kentucky. September 11th 2001 decreased my wholesale delivery accounts by over 70% overnight. A couple months later the Southeast corridor contractors, what people remember as T-Rex road construction, closed the exits off the highway at Downing,Emerson and Washington to widen I-25 , that was my second 9/11 which took over 70% of my retail business. We could have recovered from one of those events happening, but with business down 70% overall, Unfortunately, I was never able to recover from those two events and had to close Chuck’s Do-Nuts permanently January 2004. 614 East Kentucky is now a pilates studio. Go check her out, I hear she puts on a good class and will lose you a few pounds that the donuts may have put on. After almost 50 years as a donut shop it may still have a lingering smell of a glazed donut deep into your workout. The irony is not lost on me. Cheers to a good run while it lasted……Circus barker Dan…..
    P.S. Chuck’s donuts won best donuts in Denver against everyone including Lamar’s and Krispy Kreme during a Rocky mountain news blind taste test, I had a line out the door and down the block for several weeks. Good times…..bad timing in the end……

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