Sunday, March 6, 2011

Don't Glaze Me, Bro! A Field Trip to Cops and Doughnuts Bakery and Mom's Coffee Cake

I am delighted to introduce you to Nancy Prior Phillips, an avid mystery reader and follower of this blog, who graciously volunteered to become a field reporter for this post. Take it away, Nancy!

~ Cleo

My "Field Trip" to Cops & Doughnuts Bakery
by Nancy Prior Phillips

As a fervent fan of The Coffeehouse Mystery series, I have made it a daily habit to hop on over to Cleo Coyle's website to see what is new at her online coffee house. One day while visiting Cleo's *virtual* coffee shop I saw a brief mention of a doughnut shop named Cops & Doughnuts, a bakery that is owned by real police officers. 

Intrigued I read the entire article and was tickled to see that the cleverly named shop was right here in my home state of Michigan! Cleo and I chatted about my husband and I taking a "field trip" up there and getting photos and behind the scenes scoop for a guest post. My husband Les and I decided to do it. We ventured to the "Gateway to the North" Clare, Michigan, for a great weekend filled with great coffee, even greater doughnuts, and the greatest new friends.

The town of Clare (yes, the same name as Clare Cosi, the amateur sleuth in Cleo's series) has always been known for being a great point to stop on the way to Michigan's well known northern towns. It had gas stations, diners and the infamous Doherty Hotel. The Doherty gained some notoriety back in the day as a gathering place for the infamous Purple Gang. 

Now we can add Cops & Doughnuts to the annals of secret hiding places the gang used back in the 20's and 30's. How are a gang of thugs known for mayhem and chaos linked to a group of nine Clare police officers? Let me share some of the fascinating things we learned this weekend while visiting with Greg Rynearson, cop-owner and Clare police officer.

Officer Greg (center) graciously took time out from his day
to meet with Nancy (right) and her husband Les.

Here they are at the shop, where they sat down with a cup
of the shop's finest brew and listened to Greg tell them the
story of how Cops and Doughnuts was born…

The Clare City Bakery opened in 1896 with the Foss family at its helm. It went through a few different owners until 2009. This was when rumors began circulating that the bakery would be closing.

Greg and his fellow officers tracked down the lead and heard the sad truth that yes, the bakery was closing! Now these are the guys that keep Clare safe for residents and travelers alike. They patrol the streets, help find lost dogs. They couldn't stand by and let the doughnut shop close!

So two weeks before the schedule closing, which would occur on the 113th anniversary of the opening, the guys gathered over a pizza lunch and decided to come to the rescue.

They were going to buy the doughnut shop! And on the top of the pizza box they divided a circle nine ways to determine ownership and once again saved the day!

Nancy's husband Les' favorite was the
"Bacon Squealer," a maple frosted
donut topped with two slices of bacon!

In those two short weeks they took ownership, and instead of closing on the 113th anniversary, they had a grand opening!

For the first 3 weeks the lines were out the door, sales increased 22% over projection, and on the second day they ran out of doughnuts!

As we chatted with Greg, both Les and I could hear the love he feels for his hometown.

Any day they're open, you'll usually find one of the "cop-owners" there happy to sit down and tell their story. What amazes me is that they're all still working at the police department full time.

Lemon "Behind" Bars
(lemon bars with Cops' attitude) $1.79
One of the coolest stories Greg shared with us involved working on the space next door, which would become the Cops & Doughnuts store. They found a mysterious ladder up to the ceiling area that reached down to the basement for quick getaways by that pesky Purple Gang. Wow, talk about cops and robbers!

When you visit (and you must visit!), you will see some wonderful old photos of the gang. Another thing that impressed us was the international exposure this little doughnut shop has gotten since opening. They have photos of their t-shirts being worn all over the world.

Kee Kee stands in front of the display of hats and patches
from police departments all over the world, as well
as a flag given to Cops & Doughnuts by troops overseas.
The walls are adorned with over 500 patches from police departments all over the world, as well, along with some great t-shirts!

After enjoying our coffee Al "Bubba" White, another cop-owner took our mug shot and then Greg told Les to make sure to check out the bathroom. The bathroom? OK, Greg....well, let me just say I have never seen a bathroom decorated as a prison cell!

This is Sherry having a great time hand frosting
the doughnuts. "Yes," Nancy said, "they actually
hand frost their doughnuts!"

Now how can we possibly write a blog post about a doughnut shop and not talk about the doughnuts? Well, we can't! As I told Cleo: These doughnuts are as big as a pie! We tried as many as we could and loved each of them and wished we had room for more.

Connor, an aspiring Iron Chef,
enjoys a Cops and Doughnuts
"Elephant Ear" (Connor created
a potato Latkes recipe for this site,
click his photo to get his recipe. :))
 As our son said when we got home with some, "Boy Howdy!"

Their coffee was equally as wonderful and... You can even order their coffee for yourself online. Click here to learn more.

Cleo now has Cops Coffee as her current "coffee pick" on her website, so if you sign up for her weekly free coffee drawing, you might even win a free package. Just send an e-mail that says "Sign me up" to

To say that Les and I had a great time is an understatement. We were warmly welcomed everywhere we went, and it was hard to leave. We will be returning to Clare this summer for another visit, and we know that we will be welcomed back with a smile, a cup of great coffee, a pie sized doughnut and we will hear "thanks for shopping Clare!"

Thank you to Greg for the hospitality and a great field trip!

Please visit Cops & Doughnuts on Facebook,
they love new friends! Click here to visit.

And now for a little something
to enjoy with your Cops Coffee...


A note from Nancy Prior Phillips:
Sundays were a special day growing up in our house. My mom (Henrietta** Prior) always made a big breakfast for us. One of our favorites was this coffee cake, which is how it was named Please Mom cake!

**My mom's given name was not Henrietta but "Harriet Louisa," bless her heart. But my dad always called her much so that once, at a parent-teacher conference, when my mom introduced herself to my teacher as "Harriet," I tugged on her coat sleeve and reminded her that her name was Henrietta. Sweet memories.  I think a "Please Mom" Cake would be a perfect accompaniment to a hot cuppa Cop's Coffee, what do you think?

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon)
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup peach, strawberry, OR pineapple preserves (first time I made this I used all three because I didn't read the directions was great!!)

2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions: Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender to make a fine crumbly mixture. Add egg and milk; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into a generously buttered 9-inch square pan. Spoon both preserves over the batter, then swirl through the batter with a knife. Mix topping ingredients with fork or fingers until crumbly and sprinkle evenly over batter. Bake at 400° Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes, until done. Cut into squares and serve while still warm.

Makes about 9 squares.
Thank you again to Greg for taking such
good care of Les and Nancy!  ~ Cleo

To visit Cops and Doughnuts online
(more photos and history), click here

To "like" Cops Coffee
on Facebook (a fun community!),
click here

To purchase "Cops Coffee"
at their online store, click here

Last but not least thank you, Nancy, for bringing us along
on your field trip--and sharing such a wonderful recipe.

God bless your mom (and you and your adorable family)
and all those wonderful cops in Clare, MI,
who are showing us how to "protect and serve"
 in more ways than one! :)

~ Cleo

If you have a comment or question
for me or Nancy, just click the comments
button below. Cheers, everyone!


  1. Thanks so much for taking me on the field trip, Nancy! I really feel like I've been there. What a fantastic story...the old bakery, the police, the *huge* doughnuts! Lemon behind bars...ha! And thanks also for the recipe for Henrietta's coffee cake: I can't wait to try it. :)

  2. What a great story. America at its best! Thanks for taking us along and sharing.

    ~ Krista

  3. This was so much fun! What an entertaining way to start the day. Nancy, you did a great job and I can't wait to sample that Thanks Mom cake!

  4. What a wonderful post, Nancy! Thank you so much for this great story and for introducing us to Cops & Doughnuts! Michigan isn't all that far from me, I think I'm going to add this to my list of must-dos! What a fun experience and I'm so happy you shared your adventure with us! Love the pictures, too!

    And, I have to tell you, "Please Mom" coffeecake is about the best name it could have to make me want to try it!

    Wonderful post, Nancy!! Thank you!

  5. Wow...I'm tickled pink as a hand frosted strawberry doughnut right now! A huge thanks and hug to Cleo for allowing me the opportunity to follow my muse and write about our fun filled weekend. You, my friend did a great job of editing and making my pictures come alive!

    When it is all said and done is seeing my mom's coffee cake posted. Harriet Louisa Prior would have loved the web...and I hope Heaven has WiFi...after Les read this he looked at me and said "Wasn't your mom's name Harriet?" Yes it was...but my dad knowing she wasn't fond of that name always called her Henrietta...

    Cleo...thanks thanks and thanks!

  6. Thanks, Nancy, have wanted to 'visit' this place since I first heard about it!

  7. Nanc - thank you for a wonderful post. You've made me add this to my list of things to do if I ever get to Michigan. And how sweet of your Dad to give your Mom a 'special' name. What an endearing thing to do!

  8. As a transplant to Clare almost 13 years ago, I can say with certainty that this town welcomes everyone. I'm pretty sure we have the most approachable police department in the country. They are a great group of gentlemen with a fabulous sense of humor. The coffee is great at Cops, the sweets are out of this world (I hope you had a fritter), and owning a t-shirt from there is a must! "Aunt Judy"

  9. Replies:
    @Elizabeth, your kids with the bottomless tummies would love this place! The charm is only exceeded by the wonderful aroma of doughnuts and coffee!!
    @Krista, Thanks so much...we can't wait to go back!
    @Mary Jane, this whole experience can be another item checked off of my bucket list! To see my words and experiences online...WOW! Also to see my mom's recipe...she would be proud.
    @Julie, take the ferry across to Elberta and drive on down to Clare! You won't regret it!!
    @Janet, it is worth the trip to meet these wonderful guys and to see how they "share the love"...
    @Linda, my mom didn't liked her given name at we always thought of her as Henrietta. It was a touching and loving endearment...
    @Aunt Judy, You are so lucky to live there. What a great little town Clare is...we enjoyed White House burgers (and breakfast the next day!) went to a very cool Amish store and yes, we did eat the fritters!! They are still on my hips in fact!!
    Thanks again, what do we need to do to get you and Marc out here??!!!

  10. What a great story and yummy looking recipes. Thanks for the field trip.

    Thoughts in Progress

  11. @Mason, thank you so very much! It was a great trip and I can't say enough how much fun we had in Clare.

  12. Chiming in late, but what a fun field trip! I'll have to follow this when I come to NY next. What fun! Of course, I wish there was a gluten-free doughnut worth its "nut". :)


  13. Avery, I'm trying to imagine a gluten free doughnut and it's just not happening! Though it is still worth the trip to MI just to meet these terrific guys!

    @Cleo...I don't have the words to properly say thanks to you for "sharing" your space. Thank you so very very much...Les and I are at your service for further field reports anytime!!!

  14. Mom, you did a great job on this! I'm glad yo had a good time! And, Connor's hair looks awesome in that picture.

    Also, thanks for explaining the "Henrietta" thing. I was really confused about that. :P

    Love you!


  15. @Emily, of these days you will have to concoct a recipe so we can get your picture on here!!! I love you, Boo!

  16. Nanc - I just wanted to add again how much I enjoyed your "field report" and photos. You always make me smile, and I have a hunch that you made everyone at Cops & Doughnuts smile, too. (Not to mention everyone who sees this post!) Is there any better gift than that? Maybe your mom's Coffee Cake! Thank you for sharing that, too. Henrietta/Harriet, I know you're up there somewhere smiling, too...

    ~ Cleo