Mel-O-Cream Donut International to get a new home
Doughnuts made here in Springfield find their way to bakery shelves throughout the Midwest – thanks to MEL-O-CREAM DONUT INTERNATIONAL’s wholesale network. But those home-grown, dunking delights can only be purchased under the Mel-O-Cream name here in Springfield and a single franchise location in Lincoln.
That Lincoln store – which has operated from the same address in the Keokuk Shopping Center for 60 years – is about to get a new home.
“We were always going to relocate when we bought the place,” said Joe Ryan, who with partner Greg Patel purchased the Lincoln Mel-O-Cream franchise in 2021. “Everybody wants a drive-through (window).”
Despite the focus on speed the move actually will be taking Mel-O-Cream even closer to Lincoln’s historic downtown district, just two blocks north of the courthouse square.
The partners have purchased a mostly vacant lot at 227 N. Kickapoo St. that has long supported a drive-through traffic pattern. The lot just west of Latham Park – previously owned by the city – is home to the city’s utility payment drop boxes.
A warehouse on the property already has been demolished, but the mailboxes and drop boxes will remain onsite, Ryan said.
“We wanted to keep it closer to downtown,” he said. “Be a part of the downtown community.”
Mel-O-Cream’s new home will nearly quadruple its existing footprint at 704 Keokuk St. with both indoor and outdoor seating, private event space and ample parking. A fall move is projected.
But Ryan said plans are in the works to honor Mel-O-Cream’s original home in its new digs.
Generations of Lincolnites have perched atop the low-seated stools at the Formica countertops that “V” off of the doughnut display case stocked with everything from long johns to old fashions, cake to cream filled, apple fritters to tiger tails.
Mel-O-Cream Donut International founder Kelly Grant Jr. and original franchise owner Carl Meyer designed and built the simple, open counter, complete with built-in ashtrays at each seat.
Meyer worked production in Springfield’s Mel-O-Cream stores before opening the Lincoln franchise in 1964.
The Springfield-based bakery would eventually tout a dozen franchise locations stretching from the Quad Cities to St. Louis.
Today, only two remain – the Springfield franchise owned by Amanda Crossland and the Lincoln franchise. The Lincoln store remained in the Meyers family, eventually run by Carl’s son and daughter-in-law Dave and Kathie Meyers, until the sale in 2021.
MEII TEA has opened with an Asian take on tea and cake.
The new business at 3106 W. Iles Ave. has boba tea and a cake and pastry line up flavored with everything from traditional vanilla and chocolate to taro and mango.
The dessert menu features in-house made cream puffs, individual cheesecakes, crispy cakes made with cereal and nuts as well as 4- and 6-inch cakes. Drink selections also feature milk and fruit teas, smoothies and slushies, citrus sodas, frappes and herbal teas.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Phone: 217-679-1269.
Husband-wife team Matthew and Elma Nordyke own the business.
A “For Sale” sign is posted on RITZ’S on 700 W. Jefferson St., but management says the doors won’t be closing anytime soon.
“We are still here for you!,” reads the social media post. “Yes, there is a “For Sale” sign outside our West Jefferson location, but we are still here and open, ready to serve you all. We won’t close right away and we’ll keep you updated when it happens.”
Ritz’s has been serving up comfort food from the address since expanding to the second site in 2001. No changes are planned for the original RITZ’S LIL’ FRYER at 2148 North Grand Ave. E.
WALNUT STREET WINERY in Rochester has closed after just shy of 14 years in operation.
The final day of regularly scheduled hours at the microbrewery was June 24.
The establishment was known just as much for live music in the wine garden and bocce ball tournaments, as the sweet and dry wines produced and bottled onsite. Owner Loren Shanle said wines will continue to be made and sold through the end of the year. Call 217-498-9800 or email walnutstr[email protected] for information about how to purchase wines.
The A La Carte column highlights restaurant openings, closing, renovations and relocations, as well as personnel changes and business news. Natalie Morris can be reached at 737-7254 or by email at [email protected].