Hemmed in by fields, the small town of Somerset Center, Michigan boasts a culinary treasure. Special Ed’s Donuts, parked close to the road, tempts passers-by to stop for a warm treat on a chilly autumn morning. Wafts of cinnamon greet customers as they cross a muddy parking lot to buy a freshly baked doughnut for $1. At first glance, what seems a simple school bus is actually a thriving family business.
Ed Kimble, retired football, baseball, and wrestling coach at Addison Community Schools, bakes and sells doughnuts from the bus. Painted white, the bus has the slogan written across the side, “Forget the rest, come to the best!” Special Ed’s is indeed special, serving customers from out-of-state, as well as welcoming Michigan natives who make the trip to the small town of Somerset Center just to enjoy a doughnut, Kimble said.
“The only problems I’ve had is with people who thought I was making fun of others with the name,” said Kimble. “I would never try to offend anyone.”
Instead, Kimble named his business in a playful spirit of self-deprecation.
“People who know me will tell you, ‘Oh, Ed’s a special guy,’” he said.
Kimble began making doughnuts in a spirit of hospitality, buying a small doughnut machine on a whim and giving doughnuts away to friends and students. He often made doughnuts for the football team he coached and handed them out with chocolate milk.
“My first year as head football coach at Addison, his son was a senior on my team,” Josh Lindeman, head coach of football at Addison community schools, said in an email. “His son frequently brought in doughnuts for the team.”
Soon, Kimble saw a business opportunity. With encouragement from his wife, he began to search for a food trailer. Instead, he found a bus, parking it on a lot in Somerset Center, and there it has stayed. Three years later, the business is small but successful, one that Kimble did not intend to make a living from. With three sons in college, he said that it helps with spending money, and gives his children a job over the summer.
“It’s just something for us to do,” Kimble said.
Kimble does not appear concerned about profit, and says that he often gives away more than he makes from the business.
The residents there say they remember his kindness. His daughter, who plays volleyball at her highschool, regularly takes 2 dozen to share with her teammates.
Serving quality hot pastries to the local community for a low price and good service, Special Ed’s Donuts is a thriving business, even on a quiet street in Somerset Center, Michigan.