Donuts

A selection of Sammons’ donuts - plain glazed, creme-filled and jelly-filled rounds, a long John and two chocolate glazed.

MURRAY – Our community took a collective punch on that fateful Saturday afternoon in early September 2021 when, in a Facebook post, the “ladies” of Sammons’ Bakery, Patty and Teresa, announced their retirement. No more chocolate barnyards. No more cheeseburgers.

“Thank you all for the love and support you have showered us with over the years!” the post read. “It has been an honor to be a part of your lives. Our hearts will forever be fulfilled with the family traditions that were passed from generation to generation, bringing your families in and letting us celebrate with you, and watch your families grow. … We have poured all our love into every single bite. We hope and pray each of you have felt as much love in our food as we have felt from each of you. We will miss you all so very much. (Two-thirds) of our lives have been inside those bakery walls loving, laughing, and sharing with you all. … But don’t worry… you will taste the Sammons goodness again. It will be different, but the taste will be the same.”

And right they were; six months later, the “World’s Best Burger” was back in Murray. The location is different, but the taste is, in fact, still the same. The new Sammons’ Bakery is housed within the Pocket’s gas station on Chestnut Street. Bringing back the Murray staple was the brainchild of Murray native and Kentucky Lake Oil Co. CEO Chuck Baker, with the assistance of another Murray native and the company’s President Carey Alexander.

Among the notable differences, the new Sammons’ accepts debit/credit cards. They serve burgers well beyond noon; the grill actually does not close until 6 p.m. Perhaps most importantly, they are open during the weekend. For the first time in decades, Murray families can enjoy a long John on a Saturday.

As promised in that farewell FB post, Teresa, one of the former owners, has been working with the new staff, training them to master the time-honored recipes she had made, until September, for 39 years. “She’s like a local celebrity,” Alexander said. “People are seeing her and coming to say hello.”

“The sisters (Patty and Teresa) made a quality product,” Kitchen Manager Bruce Eubanks said. “We’re the only people in western Kentucky making food from scratch like this. We’re making the hamburger buns from flour. The quality difference is tremendous. … It’s not something you can just get at the grocery store or somewhere else. It’s one of those special things. I feel lucky to be a part of it.”

“Our building wasn’t made to be a bakery,” Alexander said. “We will be expanding and adding another room on now that we’ve seen the demand and what it takes. We’re learning as we go. We’re just trying to figure out how to sustain the demand. We went from not having a bakery to having a bakery people love and know. It’s not the same business now.”

“It’s like opening any new restaurant,” Eubanks said. “You’ve got to get everybody trained and get the new systems down. It didn’t have a system. It had recipes and it had quality and all of those things. Now we’re trying to develop it into a system that can go all day long.”

The smiles are just unbelievable,” said Caron Sorrels, a Pocket’s employee and long-time Murray resident. “We’ll have three or four people deep and they’re just smiling. They just can’t wait. I think the barnyards are the most popular and the chocolate and the plain glazed (donuts).”

“I didn’t understand about the brownies,” Alexander admitted. “That was a phenomenon in itself. I didn’t know they only made them to order, on special order, you had to call and ask for them. Well, since we hadn’t mastered the donuts yet, they started with the brownies and they started making sheets of brownies. So, that’s all we sold for the first three days – burgers and brownies. I didn’t understand the impact of the brownies.”

Eubanks shared an anecdote, “My eye doctor said, ‘They closed, and they didn’t even tell us that they were going to close, and I thought, ‘Man! I didn’t have my last Sammons’ burger!’ He said he grew up on them. He said, ‘I felt embarrassed to go the third day in a row.’”

Patron Joretta Fox Randolph shared a touching story about the day she pulled up to the bakery and found the “ladies’” brother cleaning out the building. She saw a pile of trays and asked if she could buy one of them.

“I told him the story of my family and how long we had been going (to Sammons’) and he said, ‘Come in here. I want to show you something.’ He took me in the restaurant and went in the back. He brought out four of the (Hungarian coffee cake) Bundt pans and said, ‘I want you to have these.’ I guess what I said about how much Sammons’ meant to me meant a lot to him.”