Father-Son Team Makes Mr. G’s Donuts A Lexington Treat

On April 22, near the end of the Easter/spring holiday week, my wife and I drove to Lexington, Virginia to check out some antique malls and have a picnic at nearby scenic Goshen Pass.

Lexington is a both a charming, historic college town and easy day trip from the Roanoke area. With gas approaching $5/gallon, many folks are looking at day trips. On that glorious spring Friday, we drove one hour north on I-81 and then took the left lane exit at Lexington to enter I-64 West. Once on I-64, we took the first exit, #55, which leads toward Lexington, Goshen, and the Virginia Horse Center. The exit ramp stops at a light at the corner of Routes 11 and 39. On the right side is a Ruby Tuesday and an Auto Zone, and beyond that, an antique store. While my wife was checking out that shop, I noticed a food truck in the parking lot. The sign read “Mr. G’s Donuts” and a courteous young man appeared in the window to take my order.

Striking up a conversation, it turned out to be a father-son enterprise. For someone in food service, the son is almost too-aptly named Trey, and the father, Gene Showker, is “Mr. G.” Seven years ago the elder Showker had an office coffee service, but business dropped off when the economy slowed down, and so he had some extra time on his hands. Obviously a man with a keen mind for opportunity, he got a trailer and went into the donut business. Over time, he quit the office coffee gig and went into donuts full-time.

His trailer is at 1150 North Lee Highway (Rt. 11), Lexington, and is open for business on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. They open at 7:30 am and then close when they sell out, which is usually between 11:00 and 1:00. His successful enterprise is a living example of “location, location, location.” Jesus said, “a prophet is without honor in his home town.” (Mark 6:4) On what some might say is a related note, Showker is a native of Augusta County and he first tried to sell donuts there, but business was slow. He later took a stab at the Charlottesville market, but the intersection he chose was too busy. Undeterred, he set up shop in Lexington five years ago and “it just took off” and “I don’t have to go anywhere else,” he explained. He said the nearby Virginia Horse Center attracts people from many states. Moreover, VMI, Washington & Lee, and Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista provide a steady stream of clients from far and near.

Plus, since his trailer is right off I-64 and only about a mile from I-81, he gets business from all over the country. Some of his most far-flung visitors have hailed from New York and even Alaska.

When asked what he liked most about his job and working as an independent entrepreneur he offered a quick smile and reply: “Making people happy, because it’s really ‘feel-good’ food, and it was especially good during Covid, because people needed something to make them ‘feel good’ with some good food, and our sales actually went up during Covid.”

Addressing his unique niche, Showker claimed: “nobody does what we do. [Consider] Our ingredients. We don’t skimp on ingredients. We use twice as many ingredients as anybody else. We go against the industry standard.”

Impressed with the menu choices and unable to narrow it to one option, I got two: a Bavarian Creme and a Blueberry. These are all yeast donuts, not cake ones. From Mr. G’s trailer, one can just cross Route 11 and, by the Waffle House, pick up Route 39. It is a scenic drive through the country to Goshen Pass, the first officially-designated scenic area in Virginia. Since we were there in late April, the road was lined with many dogwoods and redbuds in full bloom. The actual Goshen Pass is a narrow water gorge where the Maury River cuts through a gap in Little North Mountain.

My wife had already packed a picnic for our day at Goshen Pass which we enjoyed at the shaded picnic area there, so Mr. G’s provided the desserts that day.

Young Roanoke customers ages 3 and 6 get introduced to Mr. G's Donuts
Young Roanoke customers ages 3 and 6 get introduced to Mr. G’s Donuts (Photo-Deborah Dreyer)

On a later visit in June, I sampled their spiced apple donut. It was chock-full of chopped fruit. Imagine eating an apple pie stuffed into a tender pastry covered with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Next time you’re in Lexington on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday morning, consider making a stop at Mr. G’s. Or, if you find yourself near Lexington on I-81 at those times, you can take I-64 west about one mile to the first exit and pick up a donut. Or two. Or a box

Our nation recently celebrated Father’s Day, and Mr. G’s Donuts is a living example of an outstanding, year-round father-son cooperative effort and successful entrepreneurial venture.

Goshen Pass
Goshen Pass (Photo-Scott Dreyer)

Go deeper: Learn more about scenic Goshen Pass.

–Scott Dreyer


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