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The sweet love story behind JoJoe's Doughnuts in Bellingham

What do you get when a classically trained French pastry chef and savvy businesswoman come together? At JoJoe’s Doughnuts, the answer is the perfect doughnut made with love (and the biggest doughnut I have ever seen).

In a little shop on Commercial Street in downtown Bellingham, this dynamic duo of Jo and Joe are serving up pastries of joy. If doughnuts were not your jam before, they might be now. Fresh every morning, these tantalizing pastry creations are loaded into the front display cases.

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Co-owner Jo Dutton explains the assortment, "We always bake at least two gluten-free options, along with our seven or eight vegan options, as well as regular varieties of doughnuts, such as maple and cinnamon rolls. Our dough is always vegan, made in the traditional French pastry fashion, all by hand every morning by Joe!"

In fact, the shop is a family affair with Jo’s kids pitching in. They work behind the scenes from baking and decorating the doughnuts to managing their social media presence. And when it came time to paint the shop, the whole family got on board with the retro colors of teal and hot pink. Classic, indeed!

Dutton laughs about her color scheme, but adds, "Working together makes us closer. We want to make a mark and leave this for our kids."

But where did this doughnut tale begin? It began as a love story, actually, formed during the pandemic.

Falling in love right before the pandemic hit provided some challenges to Jo and Joe. The primary obstacle being they lived in two different countries. Joe resided in Abbottsford, British Columbia where he already owned a small bakery and doughnut shop. Jo lived in Birch Bay. Yet, as the world came to a standstill and the border closed, love could not keep them apart.

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Every Sunday, they began meeting for dates at the Peace Arch Park — through sun, rain, and Pacific Northwest weather. This continued for two years and is also where the inspiration for JoJoe’s Doughnuts was born.

At first, they conceived an idea for a doughnut truck moving about town until, rather serendipitously, the shop on Commercial Street came available.

"The timing was perfect, like it just fell in our lap," Dutton said. And the kitchen set-up they share across the street at Amendment 21 could not be a more symbiotic relationship. As Amendment 21 winds down their kitchen operations for the evening, Joe enters to begin his dough preparations. He turns his attention to glazes and fillings while the dough rises, a process that takes 2-2.5 hours. All accomplished in the wee hours of the morning.

The doughnuts are made in small batches, all by hand, with all-natural ingredients. These are important qualities to Joe. Small batches ensure quality and all-natural is to ensure safety with dietary needs. Joe wishes "for all parents to find a doughnut their kids can eat, be it because of allergies or autism." There are no nut oils or soy used in baking or frying, only Canola. Only real sugar meets Joe’s discerning tastes. No artificial sweeteners ever find their way into his masterpieces.

Some of his most rewarding moments are "getting emails from parents so grateful for the experience their kids have coming into the shop and picking out a treat."

Of course, these desserts are for the kid in all of us. JoJoe’s Doughnuts has built up a loyal following. Some of the more popular flavors, which sell out in a matter of hours, are the Key Lime Pie, the Crème Brûlée with its hard outer coating and ooey-gooey middle, and of course, the traditional cinnamon roll topped with cream cheese frosting.

While the doughnuts at JoJoe’s are a bit supersized, they are worth every cent, starting at $3.75. They also can be made into birthday cakes for a unique twist at $7 a person. A great idea for a tea party, too.

What’s next for JoJoe’s? Dutton shared, "We are branching out a little further south to Seattle. So watch for us there!”

Good news for Seattlites. But the focus remains the same, no matter which location, "To make the best doughnut possible."

JoJoe’s Doughnuts is located at 1301 Commercial Street in Bellingham. They are open Wednesday to Friday 7 am-2 pm, Saturday 8 am-2 pm and Sunday 9 am-1 pm.

While the products, services and/or accommodations in this story were provided without charge, the opinions within are those of the author and the Seattle Refined editorial board.

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