The oldest continually operating business in Windsor Locks will keep serving breakfast and lunch to regulars, occasional visitors and new customers alike thanks to a last-minute purchase offer.
Cheryl Wadsworth was ready to close the Donut Kettle at the end of the business Sunday, to “just put a key in the door and walk,” because of economic concerns.
But Wadsworth will stick around to help the new ownership learn how to run the Donut Kettle, the restaurant she’s owned and operated since 1984, in the manner to which its clientele is accustomed. The vast majority of the staff and menu, as well as the look and feel of the restaurant, will be retained.
“They’re going to try to keep it exactly like it is,” Wadsworth said.
Wadsworth will pass on her recipes as well. Her meatloaf, a favorite of patrons, will still be prepared and served as it has been for decades.
The Donut Kettle has experienced changes in its long history. It moved from Main Street to Spring Street, changed ownership and revised its menu – as any regular can attest, the Donut Kettle no longer serves doughnuts.
Friends Larry Francia and Paul Lodola have both been coming to the Donut Kettle since it was originally located on Main Street. Lodola said he has been eating at the restaurant since he was a youngster. He remembers when the restaurant still made doughnuts and watched the fresh treats going by on a machine in the front window.
He said he remembers when Wadsworth helped set up the food for the original owner as he cooked it. Lodola, a former owner of PJ Lodola and Sons, understands the decisions an owner has to make.
“She’s got to do what she has to do as an owner,” Lodola, who now lives in Florida, said.
Francia said he thinks Cheryl Wadsworth is just tired after working there so many years. But he was glad to hear that there is buyer for the restaurant.
“I hope they make out all right with it,” Francia said.
Lodola’s wife Lois said she and her husband are not in Windsor Locks often. But when they return they stop in at Donut Kettle to reconnect with people they know in town.
Lois Lodola said she is glad to hear the restaurant has new owners.
“I’m glad for the town,” she said. “It’s a typical, small-town restaurant.”
Wadsworth announced the good news early this morning to the pleasure of her customers.
Charleen Turcotte, a 14-year waitressing veteran at the Donut Kettle, is happy to see the business stay open for the sake of Wadsworth and the community of customers. Turcotte said the customers were “heartbroken” when they heard the Donut Kettle might close up shop.
“It’s good,” she said. “It’s great for [Wadsworth].”
For Turcotte, the long-time employees and regular customers have “become like family” and the restaurant has become part of her life. Her own children worked at the restaurant. She’s seen the children of customers become regulars as adults and bring their own children; she’s served three generations of diners.
Wadsworth’s children have all worked at the Donut Kettle and some are current employees. She’s happy to see the restaurant stay open as well and called it a staple of Windsor Locks, a source for community news and a place where everybody knows everybody else.
“It’s just one of those things that stay,” she said.