A year ago, two single moms who had become enamored with Duck Donuts on a trip to Florida, looked at a small, vacant building in downtown Libertyville as the spot for a new venture.
On Thursday, after weathering supply chain issues and other hurdles that delayed the debut for months, Felicia Osler and Kelsey Anderson opened the first Duck Donuts franchise in Illinois.
Both have full-time jobs and have been navigating the ins and outs of starting a new business as well as a lengthy transformation of the little building at 111 School St., just east of Milwaukee Avenue.
“We made it. We’re finally open. We feel good about it,” Anderson, a social worker and Vernon Hills resident, told a visitor during a late morning lull.
Osler lives in Grayslake but is a former neighbor of Anderson and they became friends through their kids. While vacationing two years ago in Naples, Florida, the pair shared a love of Duck’s fresh, made-to-order vanilla cake doughnuts.
After learning it was a franchise, Osler and Anderson ran with the idea.
“People chuckle — until they taste them,” Anderson said.
Duck Donuts opened its first locations in 2007 in the beach resort towns of Duck and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania-based company began franchising in 2013. The fast growing company has more than 100 locally owned and operated shops in 21 states and a location in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
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They chose Libertyville for the downtown’s Main Street atmosphere and revamped parking nearby. The 1,200-square foot shop has a beach theme. Inside seating is limited but there is an expansive outdoor patio.
Besides doughnuts, which can be customized with a variety of coatings and toppings, the eatery offers coffee blends, espresso, doughnut breakfast sandwiches, doughnut sundaes, frozen beverages and milkshakes.
“I highly recommend sausage, egg and cheese with maple drizzled and bacon on top,” Anderson said.
Visitors can watch their orders being made.
“The kids just absolutely love standing there and putting their face and fingerprints all over the glass,” said Larry Farrell, a franchise consultant from the home office in Libertyville for training and the lead-up to Thursday’s opening.
Autumn and David Parish of Libertyville stopped with their newborn, Fritz and ordered three doughnuts and an iced caramel latte.
“It’s warm. It has an airy texture,” Autumn said. “Cake doughnuts are really dense (but) this is light and fluffy.”
The shop is open seven days and employs 54 people, Osler said. An official grand opening is planned for June 4.
Jennifer Johnson, executive director of MainStreet Libertyville, said Duck Donuts is a great addition to the mix of eateries and shops that draw visitors downtown.
“We’re beyond thrilled that the owners of the very first Duck Donuts in Illinois, who are both local area residents, chose downtown Libertyville as their location,” she said.