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Home » Blog » Gatlinburg Dining » Uncovering the Sweet History of The Donut Friar in Gatlinburg
sign for the Donut Friar in Gatlinburg

Uncovering the Sweet History of The Donut Friar in Gatlinburg

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If you’ve ever visited The Village Shops in Gatlinburg, you may have smelled something delicious wafting through the air as you walk around. It was probably the smell of incredible goodies from The Donut Friar, an amazing donut and pastry shop that’s been serving guests of Gatlinburg for decades! We want to share more about The Donut Friar in Gatlinburg with you, including the history of the shop.

History of The Donut Friar

In 1969, the quaint little galleries, stores, and cafes opened in The Village Shops in Gatlinburg. The owners, Carolyn and James Ryan, moved their family of 7 to Gatlinburg in 1969 to start The Donut Friar, and their shop is the only original store that is still operating from when The Village Shops first opened. It is also the second oldest family-owned, continuously run shop in Sevier County!

On August 26, 2021, Carolyn Ryan, the owner of The Donut Friar in Gatlinburg, passed away. She worked at the shop until she was 89 years old, and according to a post on the shop’s Facebook page, “She was sweet, generous and kind to her family, friends and customers. Her legacy will live on.”

Be sure to visit The Donut Friar the next time you’re in Gatlinburg to admire the legacy that Carolyn Ryan has left behind

What to Expect When You Visit

For more than 50 years, the owners and employees would wake up and be at the shop early to start preparing their mouth-watering pastries so they would be finished by opening at 5 am for hungry patrons. As you walk into the shop, you’ll see the cases lined with delectable treats, and every single pastry was made fresh that morning. Of course, you’ll spot glazed donuts, crullers, eclairs, cinnamon rolls, and their infamous cinnamon bread. Your mouth will water at the sight of these treats, and you may have a hard time deciding which ones you want to try!

An assortment of glazed donuts.Nothing pairs more perfectly with donuts and pastries than a cup of coffee! The Donut Friar in Gatlinburg has a coffee bar where you can order a cup of it black, or try one of their other espresso-based drinks, including cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, and more.

Once you’ve picked out the treats you want to try, sit right outside the cafe and enjoy your treats before you head out for the morning!

More About The Village Shops

When you visit The Donut Friar in Gatlinburg, you’ll probably want to browse through the other eclectic stores while you’re visiting The Village Shops! This little area makes you feel miles away from everything with its old world atmosphere and European-inspired architecture. Most of these shops are locally owned and operated, and you’ll love getting to meet these people. There are food speciality shops, art galleries, jewelry stores, home goods, and so much more in The Village Shops.

The next time you’re in town, you can’t miss visiting The Donut Friar in Gatlinburg! Your taste buds will thank you! Want to know where else you should eat? Check out these other incredible places to eat in the Smoky Mountains!