Everybody loves donuts

Lord knows I do

Everybody loves donuts

Let’s eat just one or two

– Matt “Chainsaw” Chaney

Choosing a name is arguably the most important part of starting a new business. A great name will tell your customers what you do, while at the same time instilling confidence in your services. Many entrepreneurs take a direct approach when naming their businesses. “Ernie’s Pizza” in Philadelphia, for example, tells you two things: That there is a man named Ernie, and that he nearly certainly has pizza.

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Kevin and Tina Cavanagh, however, bucked the trend of conventionality when they opened their donut shops in Bismarck and Mandan. Why name their donut shops after the least desirable part of a bear, especially when the bear possesses a part for which a type of donut is already named?

“The old cowboys had colorful slang for food,” explained Kevin. “They called whiskey ‘antifogmatic,’ beans ‘whistle berries,’ and bacon ‘overland trout.’ In that vein, they would call donuts ‘bearscat.’ We figured that would be a fun and silly name for our donut shops, while at the same time an homage to our roots.”

In that spirit, Bearscat Bakehouse is a traditional kind of donut shop, just a simple layout decorated with Western artwork and antiques brought back from the owners’ family farms in Montana. Big glass windows provide views for rows and rows of beautiful donuts, all waiting to be taken to good homes.

“Our most popular donut has always been the Bearscat itself, one look at which will explain where its name comes from,” said Kevin. “We make Long Johns, maple glazeds, old fashioneds, jelly donuts, and all the other classics that donuts owe their popularity to. We also make a few less conventional ones, like our key lime pie donut in the summertime. Our Elvis donut has chocolate, peanut butter, banana, and bacon, just like the King liked. We once catered an Elvis impersonator’s banquet in Medora with a huge custom order of those.”

“When we took over from the former owner, they were serving previously frozen donuts, and they were overextending themselves by offering too many different things — you can’t make a turnover on Monday only to sell it on Thursday. To excel, we knew we had to just focus on making donuts, and making them really well. But donuts are a finicky food. If you do a bit too much of one thing or a bit too little of another to one, you probably couldn’t even rightly call it a donut anymore. It took us a lot of practice and guidance to master the art, but now we’re proud to make what we believe are the best donuts in the area.”

“Do you want to know the secret to making great donuts? You have to love making them — do that, and people will taste your enthusiasm in every bite they take.”

Bearscat Bakehouse also makes cookies and caramel rolls, but their donuts will always remain their star attraction. The Cavanaghs are eyeing new locations across the country, even as far away as Oregon, but will always keep the foothold on their burgeoning donut empire right here in Bismarck. Visit bearscatbakehouse.com to learn more about their two, and with Minot soon to be three, locations.

Bearscat logo


By David Scheller