Kohler's Bakery: 70 years of community and cream donuts
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Shanna Kelly | Seven Mile Satellite
Originally published 30 June 2019
Photos | Shanna Kelly
Many know the iconic red and white pin striped awning outside Kohler’s Bakery. The little shop rarely fails to have a crowd of people waiting to hear their number called and get their donuts. While this summer is likely to be the same as any other in terms of hungry customers lining up and the bakery treats offered, one thing will set it apart.
This year marks the 70th anniversary for Kohler’s Bakery, which will be celebrated with giveaways and the sale of an anniversary ornament.
The bakery was opened in 1949 by Mr. and Mrs. Kohler. Since then, the business has changed hands three times and is now owned by Colleen Quinn-Maxwell and Katie Crompton.
These two co-owners and bakers took over Kohler’s 13 years ago after working together at the bakery since they were teenagers.
Crompton, who works at an accounting firm in Horsham, Pennsylvania, grew up going to Kohler’s. By 16 she was working at Kohler’s for her cousin who was the owner at the time.
Quinn-Maxwell, teacher at Lower Moreland High School in Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania, has connections to the bakery that trace back to her grandparents renting above the old building. When she was younger, she started selling newspapers out front of the bakery until she took over for her brother as a Kohler’s employee.
Over the years, Crompton and Quinn-Maxwell have updated their branding, logo, store interior and more. The one thing they’ve never changed: the recipes. Kohler’s is famous for its cream donuts and sticky buns.
Crompton describes their Philly-style sticky buns as “sweet dough with gooey syrup on it and raisins [and] brown sugar.”
According to the co-owners, what sets them apart is their freshness and a secret ingredient — one they aren’t quick to share.
“We always say, like, even to our family members, we’d have to kill you,” Quinn-Maxwell joked.
Over the years, Kohler’s has developed a “cult following” as Quinn-Maxwell referred to it.
“It’s so much more than a bakery. It’s, like, tradition of Avalon,” Quinn-Maxwell said.
The foundation of this tradition is in the customers that come back year after year. Whether going to Kohler’s is a morning ritual during a rental week or an all-summer-long routine, the customers keep coming back.
“We just love being able to be a part of people’s memories, and their vacations,” Quinn-Maxwell said.
Molly Searing has been a part of Kohler’s following for years and is now a Kohler’s store girl.
“Since I was a little girl I’ve always been coming here to eat,” Searing said. “Once I saw the position opening on Instagram — they posted a picture of it — I thought it would be the perfect place for me.”
The bakery officially opened full time last week. From now until September, the co-owners will be starting their days at 2:30 a.m. to prep. For Quinn-Maxwell and Crompton this means going to bed around 9 p.m. and getting up while some people are still stumbling home.
Video | Shanna Kelly
But it’s not just Wawa employees, policemen and people walking home from bars that are awake at this hour — the skunks are too. Crompton keeps a flashlight on her to keep an eye out.
“We don’t, like, walk unless we, like, shine around and look for skunks — OK it’s clear,” Crompton said.
For her, this is necessary, especially after her previous run-ins.
“Oh, she’s religious with that flashlight,” Quinn-Maxwell said.
After getting past the skunks, the co-owners face a busy morning of doing management as well as baking tasks with only one day off a week in which they usually still have tasks to complete.
“It does take a toll, but we know it’s only like three months,” Quinn-Maxwell said.
Aside from the recipes, Kohler’s has kept some other original features.
“Some things have been tweaked just to make things more efficient. But I mean, we still have mixers back there from before even the original owner,” Quinn-Maxwell said.
The mixers came off a Navy ship, and it’s been their durable quality that has made them worth keeping over the years. The big bench they use to roll out the dough was purchased by Mr. Kohler before he opened the business and is also over 70 years old.
This week, Kohler’s kicked off the summer of their 70th year by sending donuts around town to fellow businesses to instill their belief in the importance of community. To top off their start to the season, Kohler’s has a surprise in store. Check back in with the Seven Mile Satellite next week to find out more. Sorry, no spoilers here.
Shanna Kelly is a writer and editor for the Seven Mile Satellite. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.