When a hunting accident in 1895 caused Marquette resident Fred Donckers to lose his right arm, providing for his wife and two small children became a concern. No longer able to fulfill his duties as a general assistant at Stafford's Greenhouse on Third Street, the native Belgian turned to confections.
In 1896, Donckers began as a simple, open air stand featuring candy, fresh fruit, tobacco and $.05 hot-buttered popcorn.
By 1914, Fred built a more permanent home for his store in it's present location on Washington Street. He also constructed a movie theater next door which he leased to Delft Theaters Inc.
As Marquette continued to grow, Donckers expanded to include a soda fountain and dining services. The menu, reflective of the times, included cream pea soup, hot malted milk and beef tea. If a sandwich was what you desired, your options were extensive: olive and tongue, pimento and olive, walnut, pimento cheese, olive and ham, minced ham, creamed cheese, or classics still included in our menu today, tuna salad and olive and nut.
The soda fountain offered such sweets as mallow peach cobbler, caramel nut puffs, and chocolate salted peanuts. With sundaes with names like, "The Talk of the Town," and "Hankie Pankie," patrons were sure to leave room for dessert! Created with timeless sweet tooth satiations like ice cream topped with chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, hot fudge, fresh fruit, nuts and real whipped cream.
The delicious Donckers menu was also speckled with promises of superior customer service: "We want you to feel perfectly free to ask us to refill any order that is not perfectly satisfactory." A commitment to the highest quality ingredients was also stated: "Everything we serve is home made. Our baking is done by Mrs. Helen Ferris and our ice creams are made from rich, pure, 24-percent cream, sugar, and the choicest and most delicate fruit flavorings."
Generations of patrons passed through the door, greeted by generations of Donckers. The business was passed from Fred, to son Frank, then on to grandsons Frank Jr., and Fred. With each passing of the front-door key, also came the passing of the coveted Donckers family fudge recipe, which we still proudly make. You may not be formally greeted by the Donckers family today, but they are still here. Their feet traveled the same floor; they served the same ice cream sodas across the same marble counter; they chatted with the customers at the same wooden booths. Their dedication to service and reputation for quality were cornerstones in the history of the business. We are honored to continue the tradition and welcome you to Donckers.