It’s Been Sweet Baker’s Retirement Leaves A Hole For Doughnut Lovers
The flour at Strick’s Donuts gets turned and mixed and fried starting at 1 o’clock every weekday morning.
Through four decades, Howard Strick has been the overseer.
He’s flattened 250 pounds of flour a day, punching out 2,000 doughnuts in 40 varieties each morning.
As of this week, Strick, 64, is finished. The family-run doughnut manufacturing plant is closing after 76 years. Today marks a remembrance of sorts.
Customers are welcome to come in from 9 a.m. to noon to share coffee and doughnuts with Strick, his family and employees.
Strick, a 1950 graduate of North Central High School, has owned the business 42 years. He’s probably made “at least a million dozen” doughnuts in his lifetime but limits his consumption to one a day, he said.
His 50 wholesale customers from Boeing to restaurants and grocery stores across Spokane will be served by another doughnut maker. The manufacturing machines may go to Chicago, and the property at 3209 N. Monroe has been sold to Pink Poodle Grooming Parlor, a salon for dogs, which will move there by the fall.
Founded by Strick’s grandparents, the doughnut operation opened in 1920 after his grandmother started selling bread, beans and doughnuts out of a garage. Doughnuts were the biggest seller and the family bought the city’s first automated doughnut machine in 1926.
The business opened at the Monroe Street location in 1960.
Managed by Strick’s daughter, Karen Torkelson, 37, the business has been tough on the family. Employees start in the early morning and make deliveries from 5 to 8 a.m., covering 120 miles in three vehicles.
“I go to bed at 7:30 or 8 p.m.,” said Torkelson, a 1977 Shadle Park High School graduate. “My night life hasn’t been the greatest. I’m going to make up for that, though.”
Strick said the people he’ll miss the most are the customers who stop daily and pick up doughnuts on their way to the office. Insurance agents, lawyers, truckers, clerks and travel agents are among his regulars.
Strick has donated doughnuts to the Red Cross for various disasters, and confections made their way to Florida after Hurricane Andrew and to Oklahoma City after the federal building bombing. Fairchild pilots take them to Germany, and police officers offer them to the downtown street kids.
Strick hopes the softball teams he sponsors will live on and his wife Mabel will continue to keep the vanity license plate DONUTS.
But Strick said he’s already becoming nostalgic.
“I cried all day yesterday,” he said.
Still, Torkelson said the labor and the hours have not been easy for her father.
“A lot of people are really sad we’re leaving, but I’m glad to see he’s getting out now. I’ve always thought he would die here.”
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