The Rapidian

Doughnut shop's new design creates gathering space for community

After a change in management, Propaganda Doughnuts aims to create an inviting space while continuing its dedication to serving quality doughnuts to the Heartside and Grand Rapids communities.

/Nicholas Garbaty

Underwriting support from:

Propaganda Doughnuts


Monday: 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday-Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Sunday: 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


Price: Ranges from $1.50 to $2.50


Specialty Doughnuts (subject to change):

The Marco Pierre: brown butter & sage glaze with shoestring sweet potatoes

Strawberry Fields: strawberry & white chocolate with lavender

The Nutty Pig: peanut butter & bacon

Coconut Chai with Pink Peppercorn

Blackberry Pistachio

Dark Chocolate with Bacon

/Nicholas Garbaty

/Nicholas Garbaty

What was once an espionage-themed doughnut shop has evolved into a modern pastry store and hangout. Located at 117 Division Ave S, Propaganda Doughnuts provides a more open environment for its consumers and community than its previous iteration.

Prior to March, the store’s character was reminiscent to that of the film “Naked Lunch,” according to Matthew Russell, an employee at Propaganda Doughnuts. Post-depression style props and furniture adorned the space, giving off a secretive detective agency feel. Now, while keeping the name, the space trades the sleuth motif for a modern, open venue.

“It’s nice now to have people sit down,” says Russell. “We get families in here, people just coming in to read or whatever and hang out for a bit.”

Despite the change in appearance and atmosphere, the doughnut shop still retains its unique products and goals.

“We’ve always emphasized the doughnuts here and kind of making innovative flavors and other pastries that you can’t really find other places,” Russell says. “We’re the only doughnut shop, that I know, at least in West Michigan, maybe even the state, that makes everything from scratch every morning. That’s important to us.”

Propaganda values what goes into their doughuts as well. Its “innovative flavors” are often a product of local seasonal fruit, such as berries in the summer, apples in the fall and even sweet potatoes during the winter. The shop has also experimented with vegan and gluten free varieties of doughnuts.

The people that visit the shop are just as diverse as the doughnuts themselves, says Russell.

“Early in the morning we’ll get people on their way to work,” Russell says. “After that, just being in the neighborhood we are, we get a lot of health professionals, nurses and people that work at hospitals and later in the day we get sort of a younger crowd. We really like to interact with the people that come in.”

Before its cosmetic overhaul, Propaganda seemed to do too good of a job emulating a secretive spy hangout, in that it was hidden in plain sight, according to Russell.

“For the first year or so, people said they found it hard to find us,” Russell says. “This whole block, there’s a lot of new places here and it’s constantly changing.”

Torrence “Tory” O’Haire opened Propaganda Doughnuts in late December 2013. While in charge, he garnered much attention for the shop, especially after appearing on the Food Network.

Though he moved on to focus on his own projects, he left his mark on the Heartside area with Propaganda Doughnuts and the Bandit Queen next door.

Both actively work to integrate themselves with the Heartside community. For example, the shop participates in First Fridays, an event by Avenue for the Arts held on the first Friday of every month that showcases local art in Heartside businesses.

“There’s a lot that I think people can discover in the Heartside community,” Russell says. “It’s not far from downtown. It’s a really cool neighborhood with lots to check out.”

The shop is open in the mornings throughout the week, excluding Tuesday, and evenings on Friday and Saturday. Aside from doughnuts, coffee and other pastries are sold as well.

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