Jim Barouxis, owner of Buckeye Donuts, presents a tray of handmade doughnuts.  Buckeye Donuts was named best late-night eats by Ohio State students. Credit: Nicholas Youngblood | Arts&Life Editor

Buckeye Donuts owner Jim Barouxis said the iconic 24-hour doughnut shop has closed only once in the past decade — the week of Dec. 26, 2019 — for renovations. Amid a pandemic, Barouxis said he doesn’t intend to break that streak.

While restaurants have switched to carryout only upon government order and many businesses have shortened hours or closed entirely due to health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, Buckeye Donuts, voted best late-night eats, remains open 24/7. 

“I want to give people — even if it’s something small like just going to a doughnut shop and getting a breakfast sandwich — I want to give them that little normalcy that they had prior to this crazy situation,” Barouxis said.

The shop, located at 1998 N. High St., has been a popular place for students and staff on campus to enjoy a fresh doughnut, cup of coffee or breakfast sandwich since opening in 1969 and garnered 20 percent of votes for best late-night eats this year. 

However, a March 12 email by University President Michael V. Drake announced that Ohio State courses would move entirely online, and students would be required to move out of residence halls by March 22. 

“Everyone was out of town, and then OSU told everyone not to come back,” Miles Curtiss, a Buckeye Donuts employee, said. “Everything kind of happened in the middle of spring break, so we’re basically stuck in spring break mode right now. What we were expecting for one week is what we’re expecting until maybe fall.”

To lower the chances of spreading COVID-19, Barouxis said the store removed every seat in its dining and waiting area, and the reduction in orders allows employees to sanitize the shop more often. Buckeye Donuts also placed signs and tape around the shop to encourage patrons to keep a six-foot distance between one another. 

After three weeks of statewide lockdown, Barouxis said the shop has done well so far and has been through tougher times in the past. 

“We’re stubborn. We’re tough. I mean, you can’t stay in business for 50 years if you’re not stubborn,” Barouxis said. 

As for his employees, Barouxis said he also wanted them to retain some vestiges of their normal lives.

“I want to give my employees the normalcy of being able to go to work, clock in, be productive,” Barouxis said. “We’re getting by. The employees are all working. Very few of them have lost their hours.”

Curtiss said the work environment has been positive the past few weeks, citing the shop’s tight-knit family environment. While the situation is brutal, Curtiss said it could be worse. 

Barouxis knows that all too well.

“When I took over, it was pretty rock bottom of the doughnut shop’s history in 2001,” Barouxis said. “So now, struggling to stay in business and survive, I was kind of used to that for the first two years I owned the shop.”

Barouxis said part of the shop’s current financial stability is due to community support. He said online orders have risen from 15-20 percent of the shop’s total revenue to 30-40 percent. He added that customers have been tipping more for employees they know are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while working. 

Barouxis said 40 families in a neighborhood ordered doughnuts March 28 on Buckeye Donuts’ website and assigned one person to pick up the orders and deliver them. 

Barouxis said he wants to thank customers for their help keeping his business alive despite the troubling times. He also thanked his employees for keeping the shop running.

“People do write-ups, and I get the credit, but I’m standing on the efforts and the contributions of the employees and their dedication,” Barouxis said.