Sweetwater Donut Mill gets into the franchise business with Plainwell shop

2017 was a very good year for Sweetwater's Donut Mill. It was named one of the 10 Best Donut Shops in America by Business Insider, won Best Bakery in Michigan by Yelp voters, and Best Donut Shop in Michigan by Best Things Michigan. 
Now, the donut shop with the glowing accolades has expansion plans for 2018. Sweetwater’s Donut Mill was founded by the Garner family -- Kathy, Greg & Trish -- in 1983 with its first location on Stadium Drive. The second store opened three years later in Battle Creek and a third opened in 1989. 

In February, Sweetwater’s Donut Mill will open its first franchise store in Plainwell. The store at  554 Allegan Street is expected to open in mid-February. It will have 4,200 square feet and serve as a full retail outlet and training center for future franchisees. Because it will be used for training the site is larger than the typical stores that will range from 1,800 – 2,500 square feet. 

The Plainwell location is now under construction. Chris Olsen, president of Ridgeview Franchising, says it will be the template franchising store and retail location. "The store design, and decoration is representative of what future franchise stores will look and feel like. New additions include a fully integrated Point Of Sale system, modernized drive-thru, and refreshed look and feel. 

"Donuts are made onsite, and that will continue with all stores," Olsen says.  "We believe this is essential to our formula of success." Sweetwater's Donut Mill offers more than 50 donut flavors and 14 muffin flavors. It makes more than 100,000 donuts a week.

The company says that over the past 35 years many entrepreneurs have inquired about franchising Sweetwater’s Donut Mill across the United States due to the brand’s popularity and financial success in West Michigan. In 2015, Sweetwater’s Donut Mill approached Ridgeview Franchise Ltd. to learn about franchising. From there, SW’s Donut Mill was born. 

"Part of the process intent was to go slower, to ensure that we did not lose any of the Sweetwater’s attributes that make up the culture and the customer experience," Olsen says. "We also began looking for new site development for the franchise template store that also serves as a retail outlet. Site selection can take a while because we look for a specific set of metrics for store location--20,000 plus cars per day, morning-side drive, within one-half mile of major highway entrance, major commuter throughway, and drive-thru.  

"The City of Plainwell was great to work with and the community has been overwhelming with support."

The original stores will retain the Sweetwater's Donut Mill name and the franchise shops will be called SW's Donut Mill. 

Source: Sweetwater's Donut Mill
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