Kimberly Foster was shown years ago how to make donuts by the originator of LaMar’s Donuts, Ray Lamar.
The venerable franchise is celebrating this year 80 years of making donuts and Foster, a Greenwood resident whose family has owned and operated for more than a decade four Kansas City-metro area Lamar’s Donuts, recalled the grace and dignity Lamar, who passed away in 2005, displayed as he shepherded the donut-making process her way.
“He taught me how to make donuts,” Foster said of Lamar. “It was a little old gas station on Linwood (Boulevard in Kansas City) that had been converted into a donut shop. (Lamar’s wife) Shannon and Ray Lamar were wonderful, wonderful people. My brother and I went down there and he had his walker and he walked us around and showed us the process. Of course we got training from corporate, but to get to learn from him was an experience that we wanted to do.”
LaMar’s tagline is “Simply a better donut.” Its claim to fame is that the franchise’s recipes have remained unchanged since 1933. That history is not lost on Foster or some of the customers that frequent her stores including one in Lee’s Summit at 705 N.E. Melody Lane near Lee’s Summit High School and one south Lee’s Summit.
The other two stores owned by the Foster family are in mid-town Kansas City and Mission, Kan.
“We’ve enjoyed it very much,” Foster said. “It was something where we really didn’t know a whole lot about donuts when we got into it, but we all grew up on them. My parents lived in the city so as kids we always went to LaMar’s. Our family had the opportunity to invest in something so...that’s kind of our history and how we got into it. It’s been fantastic. It’s a great thing to watch the people come in and the small kids. It’s been a joy. It’s a hard job – it’s seven days a week, seven nights a week – but being a part of an historical landmark in Kansas City is very big to us.”
Added 19-year-old Nick Bisignano of Greenwood: “I’ve been coming to LaMar’s Donuts since I was a kid. I’ve always eaten them.”
According to its website, Ray Lamar opened the first LaMar’s Donuts in a converted gas station on Linwood in Kansas City in 1960. Locals immediately flocked to the homemade donuts and LaMar’s Donuts became a Kansas City institution. Lines started forming before 6 a.m., and by closing time more than 11,000 donuts were sold at the location.
The store was known for their fresh donuts and the staff never refused a special request.
Based on the donut shop’s success and widespread reputation, Ray Lamar and his wife Shannon, made the decision in 1990 to franchise LaMar’s Donuts. Today, there are 27 locations in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
“We’re proud of the presence we have in the Kansas City area,” said Kayde Pierce, a spokeswoman for LaMar’s Donuts. “(Foster) is one of our contributing franchisees who have allowed us to continue to build our brand. We’re very proud of our presence out there.”
Thru March, Pierce said, certain locations are offering a ‘1933’ promotion to help celebrate the business’s 80 years of making donuts. The promotion includes two dozen Ray’s original glazed donuts and a travel mug for $19.33.
The original glazed donut is by far the company’s biggest seller.
“The reason we selected the Ray’s original glazed,” Pierce said, “is because just like the name says, that’s the donut that made us and Ray Lamar famous.”
Added Foster: “We could have chosen a Taco Bell or a McDonald’s but it was about the history to us. Because we grew up in the area – our dad worked at Union Station, our mom graduated from Westport High School – that was one of the major pleasures of being able to be a LaMar’s franchisee.”