Madsen’s Donut Shop

Established at GOTL in 1938 by Carl and Isobel Madsen, the original Madsen Donuts was in Niles, Ohio, where the Madsens lived. After finding success in the resort village, the couple purchased a home on Mapleton Beach (Sturgeon Point) and became very involved in civic and business affairs.

Carl Madson0001Carl G. Madsen was a native of Litchfield, Minn. His travels took him to Florida, where he had doughnut shops at Pass-a-Grille and St. Petersburg. Sugar rationing in World War II forced Madsen and his partner to close those businesses and focus on the shop at the lake resort.

Madsen’s wife, Isobel, was an artist and taught art in Youngstown and Pass-a-Grille. The couple had two sons, Carl Jr., also known as Duff, and Kris. Carl G. Madsen Jr. was a psychiatrist in Lafayette, Indiana.

The senior Madsen was councilman for many years and served as mayor. His focus was on the beach erosion issue, and he pioneered control measures by having two jetties built at Mapleton Beach, where he was president of the association.

Madsen was a beloved figure in the village and referred to as “Pappy.” One explanation for his nickname is that he was a second father to the many young persons who got their start in the world of work by folding doughnut boxes in the back of the shop. Madsen often hand-picked his youthful workers from the families who lived at GOTL. The younger workers typically worked afternoons at the shop, while the morning shift was taken by older adults.

A stickler for details and procedures, Madsen insisted that his employees follow those mandates. Madsen had a reputation to maintain for providing a unique, quality product that depended upon adherence to those procedures.

It has been said, and verified by employees and subsequent owners, that Carl Madsen developed his own recipes utilizing “secret ingredients” that set his product apart. These guarded recipes have transferred with the business so the Madsen name and product remain aligned and continue to satisfy both long-time customers and newcomers.


Our guests remember:

Pirl Beach

I spent the summer of 1942 in Pirl Beach (at age 16) and worked part time for the manager pulling weeds and such. Also swam every day. My Pittsburgh relatives had reserved a cottage there for many years. My aunt and cousins stayed. My uncle commuted weekly in his Buick. The Pirl Beach manager used a Model T Ford truck for his chores.

Ken Ford

Memories of Ford's

Most of my summer childhood memories are at Ford’s! My parents met there right at the picnic table. We vacationed there every summer along with my grandparents and great aunt and uncle until they passed away. We made amazing friends there that we still vacation with on Putnam Drive!! I could never thank the Payne’s enough for my childhood memories. Playing Indians in the huge back yard, solving make-believe mysteries, playing release and listening to everyone playing penny poker when my sister and I should have been sleeping. I now bring my son to Geneva every summer. He is the 5th generation at Geneva!

Sara Turner Campos

Chestnut Grove

My extended family and I vacationed at Chestnut Grove from 1948-1964. Being from McKeesport, it was a dream come true to go there every summer. I currently live in Michigan but go back occasionally. Not too long ago, I found a post card of some of the cottages where the swings and horseshoe pit were and a local artist is making me a 24×36 painting of it. I can't wait to see it! So many wonderful memories and so few things left as reminders. It is nice to know that others still remember and care.

Michelle Turner ( a Chestnut Grove Kid)


We vacationed every summer at Idle-A-While in the late '50s and early '60s, partially because my aunt was the receptionist there. I often got to ring the bell summoning guests to breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room, which was staffed by co-eds from various universities. Evenings were spent playing bingo, fascination and other games on the strip or bridge and poker back at Idle-A-While. Great memories.
John Bloom

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