Larger than life

H&D Chuckwagon serves up unusually large doughnuts, good family food

REED CITY — Dawn Anderson starts her day while most people are still sleeping. At 4 a.m. each morning, she's hard at work frying and frosting about 150 doughnuts, as well as preparing other baked goods. She patiently watches each doughnut to make sure they are perfectly golden and ready for the morning rush. Although getting 150 doughnuts ready for sale may not seem like much, it's the size and cost of the baked goods at H&D Chuckwagon — which Anderson co-owns with her brother Hal Clementshaw — that makes that make people, well, go nuts. "We have 10-inch plates, and our doughnuts pretty much take up the whole plate," Anderson said. "Most people go, 'Whoa, those are huge.' It's funny to see people's faces, especially first timers because they have no idea how big they are. It makes it worthwhile to get up in the morning just to see those faces." The two siblings have owned and operated the Reed City family-style restaurant for 16 years. To help set their business apart, they came up with the idea for giant, homemade doughnuts. They also make a variety of regular-sized doughnuts and homemade breads. Anderson's full-plate-sized doughnuts, which are sold for $1.75 each, include apple fritters, fried cinnamon, long johns, bismarcks and more. When served to dine-in customers, they come with a fork and knife. "We made them pretty big to begin with, and people started talking and we started getting bigger. They're just an eye-catcher to get people talking," Anderson said. "The biggest ones I've ever made are the apple fritters we make each day. Those need to be put on a platter. They're also the ones our customers like the most." Both Anderson and Clementshaw got their start in the food business at the Osceola Inn about 38 years ago. After more than 20 years on the job, they went into business for themselves and opened H&D Chuckwagon, located at 20221 U.S. 10 in Reed City. "Dawn makes the doughnuts and does all the baking. She makes all of our breads, rolls and everything from scratch; we don't use any mixes," Clementshaw said. "We do have the cake (regular size) doughnuts too. Our sweet rolls are one of our biggest sellers." Although they are known for their large baked goods, both large and small, the restaurant serves up a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. "Our portions sizes are a little larger on our dinners. Nobody every goes away hungry around here," Clementshaw said. "On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we have a breakfast buffet. ... At breakfast, people order our sunrise special, which is two eggs, meat and toast; for lunch it's probably our burgers; and dinner it's our cod platter." Ron and Mary Cochell, of Ypsilanti, be sure to stop by each time they drive up their Ludington cottage. The couple usually buys three of the large doughnuts when they pass through. They've been visiting H&D Chuckwagon for about seven years. "We've learned to call ahead for the fritters," Ron said. "How can you say no? Two will usually last us the weekend, and one is just for backup. ... It takes more than a day or two to finish each one." Oliver Kingsbury, who grew up in Reed City but now lives in Florida, makes a point to stop by H&D Chuckwagon whenever he's in town. Each time he does, he is amazed at the size and low cost of the baked goods. "I can’t believe they're so cheap," Kingsbury said. "This is about three breakfasts for us. You can't eat it in one sitting." Not only do people come from all over to be served the large doughnuts, they ship them to their friends and family across the country. "We've had people stop in and overnight them to California. I know a few truck drivers who have taken them back to Texas. We've probably been in every state in the U.S.," Clementshaw said. The large doughnuts also are the favorite of Colleen Osborn, her daughter, Amy Smith, and granddaughter, Chelsea Crisp. The three Evart residents recently sat down at the restaurant to "start" one each. "They last for four meals," said Osborn, who noted that she's seen the doughnuts used for birthday cakes. "I come about once a month; I can't come more than that."