The People… Charlie Mingus and John Smith
Charlie’s Donuts are a favorite among both locals and vacationers. All along 30A, you will find signs reading “Charlie’s Donuts, 6:30 or 7:00 am until sold out.” The “sold out” part is important, as they get bought quickly. I’ve often wondered about Charlie, how his business started and how he makes donuts that taste so amazing 100% of the time. I talked with him recently as we sat at a picnic table next to his Donut Truck in Alys Beach.
Charlie retired as a Colonel in the military, where he spent his time as an Army Aviator. A disabled veteran, Charlie spent his second career in the corporate world working as an Engineer. After retiring a second time in 2007, Charlie thought he was done working for good. A conversation with his friend John Smith, also a disabled veteran, changed his mind.
Charlie and John decided to open a bakery after John, recently retired from the military, expressed that he enjoyed his days in the military when he had a part-time job making donuts at a German bakery. They opened their bakery in Bonifay, Florida, in 2007 and moved their main operations where all of the donuts are made to Vernon, FL in 2017.
Charlie says his favorite thing about the business is seeing the children. He says that parents tell him that the donut truck is one of the first places their kids want to go in the morning when they are here on vacation. Charlie told me the story of a dad who came to the truck and gave the cashier $100.00 and said he wanted to buy as many donuts for the people behind him as the money could buy. The dad had recently lost his son to cancer and Charlie’s Donut Truck was one of his son’s favorite places to go.
John stays behind the scenes, making the donuts fresh daily with a dedicated staff. Starting at 12pm for the next days donuts, the staff finishes at 4:00am, with two vans delivering the fresh donuts daily. The donuts are made the way they were made in the 40”s and 50”s, with very few additives. Everything is done by hand, with no technology, such as each donut being hand-filled. They also make their glaze from scratch each day. John also makes special donuts and flavors throughout the year, like pumpkin spice donuts for October, a pink donut for Breast Cancer Month and special Valentine’s Day donuts.
The many flavors include glazed, chocolate glazed, maple, maple bacon, cake donuts made plain and with toppings, long-johns, cinnamon rolls, blueberry and lemon filled and red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, to name a few.
The Locations…Pick Your Favorite
Over the years, as their business has expanded to other outlets, they have maintained the same standard. Says Charlie,”We are still a Mom and Pop business and we still make them the way we did when we began. We are big into quality, making sure our product is perfect.”
Charlie’s Donuts Bakery is located in Vernon, FL.
Charlie’s Donuts Outlets
- Bonifay, FL
- Daleville, Alabama (near Fort Rucker)
- Seacrest Village
- Donut Truck in Alys Beach
- Modica Market in Seaside
- Perfect Pig in Seagrove Beach
- Blue Mountain Creamery in Blue Mountain Beach
- Sunrise Coffee at Gulf Place in Dune Allen Beach
Choose your favorite location, or try them all! You won’t be disappointed:) Explore Charlie’s Donut Truck on Instagram below to see what deliciousness looks like!