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Latonia Landmarks of Then and Now Collide to Celebrate Donuts

National Donut Day is being celebrated across America on Friday, but it was Thursday that Covington's popular Moonrise Doughnuts paid homage to its predecessor from a generation or two ago - Latonia Bakery.

Moonrise, operated by Keith Bales and close to celebrating its second anniversary, is known for opening in the evening, rather than the morning. It often has a line outside its door before it opens at 6 p.m. 

Latonia Bakery had a similar offering, with people from that era fondly recalling the hot donuts available late at night.

Emerson's Bakery, also popular, operates traditional morning and afternoon hours in the iconic location once used by Latonia Bakery - where the landmark chef's sign still hangs above - in the Ritte's Corner business district. Moonrise took over a former Subway location a block south on Winston Avenue. 

Keith Bales is among those who remember growing up in the era of warm donuts from Latonia Bakery. When he decided to open his own place, he wanted to honor that nighttime donut tradition.

On Thursday, he welcomed a descendant of the Latonia Bakery family.

"People would tell me about a lady, Lorna Harrell, who knew a lot about Latonia Bakery," he sad. "So I contacted her and asked her to come in between 6 and 7 p.m. Thursday and bring her memorabilia and have a question and answer time for our customers."

Lorna Harrell is the daughter of Charles and Helen Petty, who were the son-in-law and daughter of the original Latonia Bakery owners, Carl and Helen Schlipf.  Carl was an immigrant from Germany, and he bought the building on Decoursey Avenue in 1929. Carl and Helen ran the bakery for years, and their daughter, Helen, and her husband, Charles, took over when they retired.

The bakery was renovated in 1956, and then bought out the building next door and tore it down, creating a parking lot for customers.

Bakers would come into the bakery in the evening and night hours to make the donuts, bread, cakes, cookies, and rolls for the next day. People in the neighborhood would smell the heavenly scent of cinnamon and bread and follow it to the side door of the bakery where Clarence Boyer, the foreman, took pity on them and let them in to buy the donuts.   

Bales asked Lorna if he was the man with the three fingers and she said, yes. He was also the beginning of the legend of the donuts at night, an outside-the-box thinking that became lucrative for the bakery, and inspired people like Bales to recreate the feeling for other Latonia residents.

Bales now offers 125 varieties of donuts, not all at the same time, with certain types on certain days. Classics like twist donuts with sugar, and cake donuts are mixed with bourbon cream yeast and strawberry cheesecake yeast and a different variety is advertised each day the shop is open.  

The hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and 6 to 11 on Friday and Saturday.

Bales likes to say when the moon is rising, so are the donuts.

Story and photos by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Top photo: Customers at Moonrise Doughnuts (RCN)

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