Father, Son Take Pride in 45 Years of Fat Tuesdays
Mark Porada learned the ropes at Dearborn's Donutville USA from his father, Al Porada. He'll put that knowledge to work Tuesday, when he expects to sell 150-200 pounds of paczki.
By 7 p.m. Monday, people will be jumping at the chance to get their paczki in time for Fat Tuesday. And at Dearborn's Donutville USA, they'll be accommodated.
Donutville owner Mark Porada expects to sell some 150-200 pounds of paczki by the time Tuesday is over.
He characterizes his shop's variety as “quite sweet, kind of dark and 25 percent larger than the average.” The shop has seven flavors: strawberry, apple, custard, prune, cherry, butter cream and jelly.
Their recipe, 45 years in the making, is near perfection.
Donutville USA opened for business on July 4, 1966 as the brainchild of Dearborn police officer Al Porada. Porada eventually had ownership in Dearborn’s Mr. Donut and Donut Mill, which were located in the building now leased to the restaurant Potbelly Sandwich Works.
Porada's son Mark assumed ownership 11 years ago as Al settled into retirement. Mark had loved the business from the very beginning of his time working there, which was New Year’s Day 1980. That day, he was thrown into action when Donutville was short-staffed. He was a mere 13-year-old.
In high school, Mark was one of the original video jockeys at Dearborn High’s Back Porch Video–entrepreneur Russ Gibb’s interesting creation that landed on local Dearborn cable in the early '80s. The show had a strong 16-year run.
Mark went on to do some modeling and eventually graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a degree in psychology.
These days, he’s known as being affable, talkative and given to smiling. Occasionally, he'll look through the window and off into the distance, gazing into the past as he recollects. He’s 44 now–just about the same age as Donutville USA.
As one who has knowledge and real passion for his business, trade talk, methodologies and procedures fly easily from his lips.
Donutville makes 26 different donuts. They’re all handmade, according to Mark Porada, and they use no palm oil, coconut oils or cholesterol. They use a vegetable oil in their products–no fat, no animal products. And yes, it is more expensive to do that.
They repeatedly sell whole boxes of the goods.
“Machines don’t handle things like time and temperature," Mark adds. "Even the time of year alters the way you make donuts, due to humidity changes.”
Soon, a man known as Handsome Frank, 62, has entered the building. He’s a regular, attired in a white, short-sleeve shirt–no overcoat, which he rarely wears.
When queried about Donutville, a smiling Frank fires back five words: “Best coffee in the world.” Who’s to argue?
Retiree Angelo Barile, an everyday patron, has been standing nearby, lost in conversation. He’s the original owner of Dearborn Italian Bakery.
Barile likes “the friendliness, products and the owners” of Donutville. He’s hooked on this daily habit.
It’s 10:45 a.m. when Al Porada, now 80, finally arrives. He doesn’t stay long, and Mark Porada admiringly watches him walk out to the parking lot that once felt the footsteps of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Seems both politicos needed a Donutville fix.
“Look at him–he’s a leopard," Mark says of his dad. “All action.” Heading off into the day, Al could be going for a swim or meeting buddies for coffee. He keeps the pedal to the metal.
Finally, Mark says, “I’m getting antsy.” Work is beckoning in the back room. Paczki need to be prepared for Tuesday.
It's tradition as much as it is heritage. Al Porada is 100 percent Polish. Mark is 50 percent. The impending Fat Tuesday, like all the ones before it, should be in good hands at Donutville USA.