Ypsilanti residents Amie Anderson and Jamie Krake gained a following for their homemade donuts. Welcome to It’s a Good Day Cafe.
JACKSON, MI — Across years of travels, dynamic culinary duo Amie Anderson and Jamie Krake have dreamed of opening their cafe together. But the Ypsilanti couple didn’t anticipate that the chance to transition their local homemade donut delivery biz into a brick-and-mortar campground cafe would finally arrive during a pandemic.
It’s a Good Day Cafe opened July 3 inside Greenwood Acres Family Campground in Jackson. Taking over the former Boat Dock Cafe — a campground staple whose name Jamie jokes they may never shake off — was something Amie and Jamie wanted for their family for a while.
Jamie, who grew up in restaurants and has spent most of her career working in the administrative side of food service, said she “really, really missed” communicating with customers in her everyday work.
So when the opportunity arose for she and Amie to sign the contract for their cafe in January 2020, they seized it.
A Jam in the Works
Then a little something called coronavirus hit Michigan. But that didn’t stop Amie and Jamie from working hard to adapt their plans and achieve their dream: building a business smack dab in the campground they and their two young kids had been enjoying for years.
“The campground wasn’t open, so it was kind of a week-by-week decision on whether they were gonna open or not,” Jamie said. “When it comes to the cafe, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that we got word that we were going to be opening. We had to change our menu, we had to change our style of service.”
The cafe itself is so small, Jamie said, that Gov. Whitmer’s order that restaurants reduce their indoor capacity to 50% would mean they could only serve a couple of people at a time. Luckily, they’re located on scenic, wide-open space, so It’s a Good Day Cafe was designed to have lots of outside seating at picnic tables.
And the pair optimized their takeout menu, since takeout is all they’re offering during the pandemic. And the kind of homestyle, grab-and-go grub they’re serving up is much appreciated at this family campground. You can check out their entire menu here, but some of the highlights include cheesy hash brown casserole, chocolate chip pancakes, tater tot bowls, chicken parm, pizza, pulled pork … and their specialty: homemade donuts.
Donuts were one thing the new owners knew they wanted to bring to ol’ Boat Dock Cafe right away. They launched their home-based donut delivery business, which serviced Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor sweet tooths, as they prepared to open their cafe. Quickly, It’s a Good Day Donuts developed a cult following in the area — with good reason.
“The first time we made a donut was the end of January,” Amie laughed. “Being at the campground, I always wished somebody here sold donuts.” A perfect treat for little campers, something sweet to munch on with a thermos of hot coffee — why not? “So we decided that this had to be number one when we got going with the cafe. But I didn’t have any experience with donuts. So we had to practice.”
And practice they did, until they were practically “sick of donuts,” said Jamie. When they started opening up to the local community for orders, people went cuckoo for their creatively themed boxes. One of their most popular, a Pride-themed box from June, featured an array of rainbow donuts in flavors that tasted like a real celebration: cotton candy, blackberry bourbon, Florida orange, and more.
They’re regular donut experts now, and they’re bringing that background to their campground cafe. In fact, donuts were the star of opening day.
Grand Opening Day(s) at It’s a Good Day Cafe
After postponing their opening day again and again over months due to the coronavirus pandemic, It’s a Good Day Cafe’s planned Thursday, July 2 opening was hit with another last-minute postponement resulting from what was supposed to be routine electrical work the morning of.
“It was supposed to be a small thing that was supposed to be wrapped up before we opened,” Jamie said. “They discovered a gas leak, and they weren’t sure of the source of it. We had to call the gas company out to come and investigate.”
The gas company discovered the source of the leak was a failing hot water heater. And they told Amie and Jamie the last words they wanted to hear: “You can’t open today.”
But the pair worked doggedly throughout the day and night to deliver their donut extravaganza to hungry campers. By 1 a.m. Friday morning, the water heater was repaired. And with no sleep, they were ready to open for business just hours later.
“Friday morning at 8 o’clock we opened up for donuts, and we were ready to go with breakfast — as ready as it could be — by nine o’clock,” Jamie said. “So we had to go through everything and sort of wing it … but we had a good opening weekend.”
After opening up with coffee and donuts, they moved into breakfast options like quiche, biscuits and gravy, French toast bake, and egg sandwiches. Over the rest of the holiday weekend, they served up burgers and baskets of cheese curds, tots, and deep fried avocado, cornbread topped with crispy chicken, sausage gravy, and cheddar cheese, and a whole pig roast.
But the campground favorite emerged quickly: donut ice cream sandwiches.
“People loved it,” Amie said. “Everywhere, our homemade ice cream sandwiches. So we’re certainly gonna keep rolling those out through the rest of the summer.”
And they already know what tweaks they’ll make to their operations in the coming weeks — it turns out making donuts on a campground in the heat of summer poses different challenges than baking in their cramped home kitchen.
“We realized the heat doesn’t do us any favors,” Amie said. “We’ll be adjusting our frosting recipe a little bit to make sure the frosting can withstand the heat and survive from here on a golf cart to your campsite.”
But Amie and Jamie credit their family, friends, and two new staff members with helping their first day finally go smoothly.
“I think we did good,” Amie said. “We pulled together. We were really lucky to find the two employees that we have. They just started with like, two days notice and just worked so amazingly hard.”
“We’re super excited about this week and I think going into this weekend it’s going to be more relaxed,” Jamie said. “We’ll have things more organized. Our prep will be how we want it to be.”
And hopefully both co-owners of It’s a Good Day Cafe will be able to get a good night’s rest before they open for business this coming weekend.