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“Everything is God,” Celeste Brothers, co-owner of Uncle Joe’s Donuts & Things, said. “Every moment, he planned.”
Her husband, Joe Brothers, agreed. His Liberty University hat, perched carefully on his head, bobbed as he added, “Everything.”
At ages 64 and 62, Joe and Celeste Brothers moved from California to Virginia in August of 2012. The couple planned on moving to Lynchburg to enjoy semi-retirement close to family, much of whom worked and studied at Liberty. But Celeste Brothers said God had other plans when Fabulous Fudge on Timberlake Road closed. The building was then open for rent and Joe and Celeste Brothers were able fulfill their dreams of owning their own bakery.
“Now we know that there was a whole purpose to God doing that,” Celeste Brothers said. “He brought us here (to Lynchburg), and we (completed the move) within three months.”
According to Celeste Brothers, their business plan when they opened Uncle Joe’s Donuts & Things June 7, 2013, was anything but ordinary. The couple did not sit down and figure an intricate business plan for the future of their shop, because they knew the plan God had begun would be carried out smoothly.
“Every day, it’s a leap of faith,” Celeste Brothers said. “We have just went into it and said, ‘God’s got our backs. We know we’re going to be able to do this.’”
Uncle Joe’s has two employees — Joe and Celeste Brothers. Before opening the shop, Joe Brothers was a baker for 40 years. For 10 of those years, he sailed the Great Lakes as a cook in the Merchant Marines, according to Celeste Brothers. He also held several management positions, including working as head baker in a well-known Fresno, Calif., bakery for 16 years.
“Everything is done from scratch, fresh,” Celeste Brothers said. “His hand touches every single thing he makes.”
According to Celeste Brothers, by 1 p.m. each day, the bakery typically sells out of all products. Celeste Brothers said that the joy she feels when customers are willing to wait in line for their products is immeasurable.
“They say, ‘There aren’t a lot of places that I would wait in line, but this is worth it,’” Celeste Brothers said.
According to Celeste Brothers, customers are often seen exchanging phone numbers or calling to each other to meet at the same time next week for “Saturday morning donut hour” while they wait.
“It is beyond humbling,” Celeste Brothers said. “I still don’t believe this is happening.”
If any donuts are left at the end of each business day, Joe and Celeste Brothers give the boxes of treats to Salvation Army, where they are cut and served at breakfast the next morning.
“There are hungry people, even hungry animals that could use it,” Celeste Brothers said. “So that’s why we do it.”
The shop features the customer-favorite maple-bacon doughnut. They also have cake doughnuts, which, according to Celeste Brothers, most bakeries in the area have stopped making.
Joe Brothers prepares long-john bars, unfilled or filled with cream, jelly doughnuts, doughnuts holes, raised yeast doughnuts, cinnamon twists, apple fritters, cookies, muffins, and other treats to satisfy a sweet tooth. Coffee, hot chocolate, juice and other beverages are also available.
“The people here are very gracious to us and make us feel welcome,” Celeste Brothers said.
According to Celeste Brothers, business has been booming since the bakery’s opening this summer. They have relied simply on word-of-mouth around the community of Lynchburg for most of their advertisement, and according to Celeste Brothers, customers entered the store within the first five minutes of their sign being lit.
Although business continues to grow, Joe and Celeste Brothers plan on keeping their bakery small. According to Celeste Brothers, they will always be a “small mom and pop shop where customers are treated like family and every sale gets a personal touch.”
Uncle Joe’s is open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to noon. It is located beside Tiny Town Miniature Golf on Timberlake Road.