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Community rallies around Cleveland family-owned donut shop struggling during pandemic

Community rallies around Cleveland family-owned donut shop struggling during pandemic
Posted at 4:26 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 18:01:51-04

CLEVELAND — A family-owned donut shop that’s been on Cleveland’s east side for nearly 50 years is in desperate need of help.

Fat Boy Donuts, located in the city’s Glenville neighborhood, is struggling to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

But now, their customers are rallying around them to help them rebound.

Owner Mustafa Muhammad comes in every night at 11 p.m. to make sure his customers can get their fix by 5 a.m. the next morning.

“This is a recipe passed down from my grandmother to my father, and then out to me so there's three generations of us making the same product,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad’s parents opened the shop back in 1975 as Art’s Donuts, and after they died, he took over with his wife and family and reopened as Fat Boy Donuts in 2017, adding items like wings and polish boys to the menu.

“It took a while for it to start where I could actually see it moving,” Muhammad said.

But then things came to a screeching halt in 2020.

“I lost more than half of my business, I did. I probably lost, to be truthful, about 75% of my clients, and I was sad about that,” Muhammad said.

The shop closed in March last year, then Muhammad got the flu which extended the closure to the fall.

“We’re open now, but business is -- we are struggling. We are really trying to make it here,” Muhammad said.

That hasn’t stopped Muhammad from giving back to the community. Earlier this week, he delivered 1,000 donuts to national guardsmen at the Wolstein Center COVID-19 mass vaccination site.

“That's one thing that I absolutely learned and loved, that we are in this community to serve the community and be a plus to it,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad’s loyal customers are determined to help them make it through this rough patch by traveling miles just to show support for Muhammad and what many say are the best donuts in Cleveland.

“They're so soft and so fresh. I don't want to hate on another national brand -- Krispy Kreme -- put them to shame,” customer Randall Hunter said. “Even though I live in Cleveland Heights, supporting a business of people that look like me, it's a really good business.”

“I am a big believer in supporting our African American entrepreneurs, in any aspect possible,” said customer Yvette Stotts. “Melt in your mouth! Take a small piece, and sit there. Oh my goodness, it's just so delicious.”

Muhammad said he couldn’t be more grateful.

“It’s a humbling thing. I’ve been overwhelmed again with the kindness and the compassion that people have for people,” Muhammad said.

A customer set up a GoFundMe page for Fat Boy Donuts to help them through this tough time. If you’re interested in donating, click here.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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