To begin, there are not eight sisters working at 8 Sisters Bakery. The owner is one of 8 sisters in her family with a long baking heritage. Although in the beginning there were four of the sisters working together, now it is one sister with at least 3 locations, probably 4 (Marion) and maybe five (Marengo)? It was difficult for me to determine with an online search how many total locations are open to the public. The business opened in 2010 but the baking tradition started in the Amish upbringing of the owner (who left the community later in life) and some exposure on farmers markets in the early days.
I visited the newest location in the 8 Sisters empire which opened in September of 2016. Located in the Bonecutter Mall (on SR 95) a short hop off of I-71 (exit 155) the exterior would be described at best as nondescript and unassuming. Inside the space is warm, inviting and fairly expansive with some seating and a lot to look at. Within the confines there is a coffee shop, some hand painted baking themed signage and of course a cornucopia of baked goods coming from a deep and very busy open kitchen.
A handful of breakfast and lunch items are available. The tagline of the business is “You Name it, We Bake it” so I will offer a sample of the baked goods available at this location: donuts, specialty donuts, cookies, handmade candies, fruit pies, cream pies, pies, sandwich breads, brownies, pumpkin bars, muffins, bagels, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cakes and wedding cakes. Oh, my!
I asked for a random assortment of a dozen regular and specialty donuts. I sampled the following: buttermilk, red velvet, chocolate, strawberry cheesecake (in stick form) yeast/glazed, sticky bun, apple fritter & Cookies and Cream (cookie bits). Two donuts I did not try but am very intrigued by are Buckeye (peanut butter and chocolate of course) and Chop Suey Roll.
My first impression of these donuts was good. While these are the most expensive dozen donuts in my donut trail research (by about $5 more) these were without a doubt the heaviest by weight and volume, easily weighing twice as much as the typical box of a dozen donuts. The cake donuts in particular were very dense. The icing and fillings in all the donuts were fresh and flavorful. The verdict, these are good donuts.
As I departed, I decided this would be a good opportunity to explore Mt. Gilead. I have only had two previous exposures to the county seat of Morrow county. In high school, when I listened to Q-FM 96, the tag line of the station was “We Rock Columbus” but DJ’s would localize it by saying we rock -> Clintonville, Whitehall, Westerville, etc. Every once in a blue moon they would say, Mt. Gilead….and then giggle a little. My second encounter involved a shattered dream. I once knew a young lady named Anna Bell F (name hidden to protect you stealing a good idea from me). She was easily one of the three best bakers I have encountered in my lifetime. I had big dreams of, like a Kentucky Colonel with a prized racehorse, taking her on the Ohio County Fair circuit and dominating all of the prize ribbon contests for a decade or more. She never bought into this agenda. Perhaps she was afraid of the fame or terrified of me wearing a Kentucky Colonel suit all of the time. That was all I had to work with as a frame of reference for Mt. Gilead.
The last 11 miles of my trip to 8 Sisters Bakery involved a white knuckled drive over a long stretch of black ice on I-71. Therefore, I decided that it was worth the seven mile drive to downtown Mt. Gilead to take the long way home via State Route 42. On my journey up, the last few miles before I made the turn off on exit 155 all of could think of was “I am going to be really pissed if I die on a f**king donut run).” And I did not want to drive back thinking “I’m going to be really pissed off if I die before I eat all of these f**king donuts.”
Downtown Mt. Gilead is charming and features all of the elements we expect in a small Ohio town: mom and pop shops, a town square, an old movie theater, some Donald Trump/Pence signs and a civil war monument (this time an Obelisk instead of the typical bearded general statue). There was (as I previously documented there is a state law mandating this) a small bakery as well which just happened to be another 8 Sisters location. I decided to pop in here as well for perspective. The shop on South Main street is very small and does not have 1/10th of the offerings of the other 8 Sisters I stocked up at earlier. But, as I would have expected, as I entered the door I was greeted warmly and called honey, just like the other location. Some things never change.
8 Sisters Bakery
6200 State Route 95