Spartan alumni establish rock 'n' roll themed Groovy Donuts
Groovy Donuts are baking one of a kind donuts at two, far out, rock 'n' roll themed locations. Andrew Gauthier and Monica Lucas, both Spartan alumni, opened their Williamston location in Sept. 2015 and their East Lansing, Lake Lansing Rd location in Sept. 2016. Their donuts are made from scratch every day.
“I came in as a finance major and lived in West Holden my freshmen year. I was a season ticket holder at football, basketball and hockey,” Gauthier said. “I’ve been a huge MSU sports fan since I was old enough to recognize what I was seeing on TV.”
Gauthier, a Florida native, started his MSU education in the fall of 2007 and graduated in May, 2011. During his time as a Spartan, he studied abroad in the summer of 2008 in Tours, France. He also was the president of the Student Investment Association his senior year.
“I got my degree in fishery and wildlife management. The fishery and wildlife department was fantastic; I really fell in love with the entire staff,” Lucas said. “They were incredible and I went to school as kind of an older student, I was into my mid-twenties, and so it was a little bit harder to get used to but I had a lot of great support.”
Lucas had a different collegiate experience than Gauthier, the two did not meet until after graduation through a mutual friend. Lucas, a native of Port Huron, MI, graduated in May, 2012. Yakeley Hall was Lucas’s home her freshman year.
“I ended up getting a job as an undergrad in one of the fishery labs about halfway through my education. I’m a very detail oriented person, the lab manager identified that I was pretty strong at organizing and keeping things very detailed,” Lucas said. “In a disease lab, you can imagine you have to be very specific. I was promoted to kind of a management role at one of the three labs that they had.”
Groovy Donuts started off the idea that the Lansing area had an inadequate amount of local bakeries according to Gauthier.
“It all started with a conversation in which someone asked me if I wanted to go grab a coffee and a donut. This was February of 2015,” Gauthier said. “At the time, there wasn’t really any local places to do that. So I thought “why even bother go out?”, and it got the wheels turning in my head.”
The next eight months saw Gauthier and Lucas working towards one goal, opening their Williamston donut shop. The pair traveled around the state, sampling hundreds of donuts as they determined how exactly they were going to make their own donuts.
“I had always wanted to have a café/bakery, I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial,” Gauthier said. “It seemed like a good opportunity to do it, especially because there was such an opening there in the Lansing area. Within a month of that interaction I had a business plan and I was shopping out potential locations.”
After Lucas’s graduation from MSU, she continued to work in a fish disease lab as a lab manager. She helped set up the microbiology lab, fish holding tanks, and mentored undergraduate students.
“My position with that last professor, we had been working together for about a year. His funding was going through a short, and he had to cut me down to part time,” Lucas said. “As I was discussing things with Andrew, I decided to respectfully decline the part time possession… He’s a loyal customer of ours now actually.”
After Gauthier’s graduation, he received an offer from Wells Fargo Securities on Wall Street. He had interned for the firm the summer before.
“I received a full time offer and went back the summer of 2011 and worked out there for a little over two years. Having experience in the big city, and working for a company like that, I decided I wanted to come back to Michigan,” Gauthier said. “I figured in the long term I would come back it was just a lot sooner than I had planned, but it just seemed like I wanted to be back in this area, I wanted to be in the state of Michigan, and I wanted to run my own business.”
It was not easy for the pair in the beginning. Making donuts from scratch, everyday, is a grind. Lots of hours are required to ensure customers they will have a fresh donut.
“We did everything. We were cooking and cleaning and standing on our legs for hours and hours. We closed the shop off and did it all over again a few hours later. I remember my hands were so sore for months, it was the worst,” Lucas said. “But I’m really strong now, which is great. I can do things with my hands that I never thought I would be able to do.”
Groovy prides itself with its wide variety of donuts it has to offer. They have themed donuts for different holidays, and are famous for their fruit fritters. The customer experience is very important for the Groovy Donuts staff.
“I think we serve one of the highest quality donuts you can get, and probably the most unique environment you can find in a donut shop. I don’t think you can walk into many other donut shops throughout the US, let alone Michigan, and be able to catch a Santana concert in the background,” Gauthier said. “We take our customers very seriously, we take their feedback very seriously and their ideas very seriously. The customer experience is the reason we started groovy donuts to begin with, it’s a major focus for us.”
MSU is still very important to Groovy Donuts. They credit the institution for allowing them to have the skills needed to start their own business from the ground up.
“MSU is important to us. Our education was valuable to both of us and so we want to continue to support that for other students who are currently going there,” Lucas said. “You can be proud you are supporting other Spartans. It’s a pretty groovy place.”