One of my favorite parts of shows like Diners, Drive-in’s & Dives, or any other restaurant show for that matter, is how they always have a couple of middle-aged adults eating at some local place that’s been around forever, talking about how they’ve been dining at that particular establishment for years and years. Every time I hear something like this, I’m always reminded of a local place that I remember going to as a kid, that’s still around today. So, I will admit that I am writing this post based solely on nostalgia.
Jolly Pirate Donuts will forever be, in my mind, the benchmark to which all other donut shops are compared. I remember some 30-plus years ago, when I was four or five years old, taking occasional trips with my Dad to the JPD shop on E. Main St. in Reynoldsburg, and picking out our favorite donuts from the racks and racks of delicious cakes. I remember the older lady behind the counter wrapping them up in the famous “treasure chest” box. And then I remember taking that box home, opening it up, and sharing them with the family.
Thirty years later, whenever I walk into a Jolly Pirate Donut shop, I still recognize the smell. It instantly takes me back to that same place and time. Although the E. Main St. store is still open for business, the shop I frequent these days is the Southwest Blvd shop in Grove City, simply because it’s closer to my home. There are a couple of other locations still open in the Columbus area, and every single one looks as if someone picked it up out of 1965, and dropped it in modern-day 2013. While all are decently clean and inviting, they all still have the old linoleum flooring, vintage stools and tables, and no matter what time of day you stop in (they’re open 24 hours), you’re almost sure to find at least a couple of old guys sitting at the counter.
Behind the counter is where the selection process begins. Racks upon racks of freshly baked donuts wait patiently to be chosen. “The Wall”, as my family calls it, is an awesome sight to behold for any donut lover. An elderly lady wearing a vintage, pink waitress dress (remember the 70’s TV show “Alice”?? Yep, those uniforms.) usually greets us and offers to retrieve the cakes for us.
Jolly Pirate’s selection is indeed impressive, although most of the flavors are traditional-style options that, admittedly, you can find at many other shops. They don’t really have a lot of the unique, innovative flavors that some place like Destination Donuts might have, and they dont make any apologies about it. Why should they? If it’s traditional you want, this is the place to come. Powdered donuts, jelly filled donuts, cake donuts with icing or sprinkles, even toasted coconut, devil’s food, or my favorite, the “Stix” donut.
If you order a dozen, you get 13. Jolly Pirate offers the “baker’s dozen” – twelve donuts of your choice from The Wall, and one special donut from the case in the front, below the counter. There, they have donuts such as fritters, glazed twists, creme-filled long johns and more. Of course, you can buy just special donuts too, for just a small additional charge. They do also have several hot beverages to go with your donuts, and if you’re in a lunch mood, they have a few soup and sandwich selections, too.
This box is a symbol of iconic Columbus food, in my opinion. Any time you see the Jolly Pirate treasure chest, you know you’re in for some of the freshest, tastiest treats in town.
On this trip, we got a nice variety of donuts to suit everyone in the family. My son likes the sprinkles and the powdered jelly filled. My wife enjoys the powdered creme-filled and the toasted coconut, I like the devil’s food and the stix, and we all fight over the honey-dipped.
I chose an apple fritter as my “free” special donut. Sorry to say, this little fella didn’t make it home with the others.
I realize there are many, many options for donuts in our fair city, but Jolly Pirate is definitely one shop that I will always keep in my back pocket. Their reliable, traditional donuts are always fresh, and I always know what to expect. It’s fun to stop in and experience the crazy feeling that you’ve just stepped back into the past. It’s a great shop, with really good donuts. What more do you need?
Jolly Pirate Donuts can be found at 4 different locations around town, and are open 24 hous a day. The JPD I visited is located at 3118 Southwest Blvd, Grove City, OH 43123 (Map). They are open 24 hours a day.