Taylor’s Donuts aims to cater to students and preach inclusivity

After opening 1900 Barker to massive success, Taylor and Kailey Petrehn have big plans for their new donut shop across the street from Lawrence High.

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Jack Ritter

Across the street from LHS, Taylor’s Donuts prepares for opening after years of sitting in limbo.

By Jack Ritter, Editor-in-Training

Three years after purchasing the former laundromat on the corner across from Lawrence High, Taylor Petrehn’s aspirations for an inclusive-centered donut shop have been renewed. 

The original design of 1827 Louisiana St. was a snack bar and laundromat, called College Corner, but just three years ago, Taylor, the co-owner of 1900 Barker Bakery & Cafe, sought a second foray into residential bakeries and cafes. 

1900 Barker and Taylor’s new venture, Taylor’s Donuts, are located in residential zones, so after being purchased each building would need a special-use permit. Earning the permit for 1900 Barker was fairly easy, according to Petrehn in an email with The Budget, but he added that earning the donut shop’s permit has been a different challenge.

“We were stalled in negotiations with the City of Lawrence for nearly 14 months after acquiring the space,” Petrehn said. “And when we finally received the building permit and final approval to move forward, it was two weeks into the pandemic. I needed to focus our attention on 1900 Barker pretty heavily at the time, as well as make sure my family was taken care of. There just wasn’t enough headspace or resources to keep the momentum going at the donut shop.”

1900 Barker Bakery & Cafe’s sign. Photo by Jack Ritter.

Permit approved and no longer having prevailing concern of 1900 Barker, Petrehn has shifted his focus to opening Taylor’s Donuts. 

In the late Spring or early summer, Taylor’s Donuts will open across the street from Lawrence High, and Taylor said they plan to provide specific options and plan to work with the high school.

“We love the fact that the high school is right across the street,” he said. “And we hope to collaborate with [LHS] in many ways down the road. Lots of memories are made in high school and we hope that we can create some pretty great ones for the students for years and years.”

Donuts, grab-and-go lunch, coffee and even soft serve will be coming to a former laundromat near a high school near you. But before opening, Taylor’s team needs to build up a staff, something they have specific plans for.

Kailey Petrehn, Taylor’s wife, is a speech-language pathologist (SLP) at a non-profit who does outpatient pediatric therapy. She wants to use her position as an SLP to encourage change. 

1900 Barker Bakery & Cafe, Taylor Petrehn’s first business, just a short walk down 19th from LHS. Photo by Jack Ritter.

“We are in a unique position in being able to open a small business and create jobs in a way we feel is best,” she said. “As an SLP, I feel I have a responsibility to advocate for change in our communities in regard to job access for individuals with disabilities. We see the disparity in jobs available for individuals with disabilities and want to do our part in creating a more inclusive Lawrence. We strive for excellence in our businesses and we want to find excellent ways to engage our community in this way.”

Kailey added that she sees unhealthy assumptions that have shown the need for this change.

“There is a unique value in seeing a person for their strengths and building systems to support areas for growth,” she said. “We are really missing a lot of opportunities for strong, vibrant personalities to enhance teams when we exclude people with disabilities because we assume incompetence for whatever reason.”

Across the street, IPS teacher Susie Micka is cheering on the process. 

“This makes me so happy,” she said. “It feels like the inclusive culture of LHS is just radiating outwards. IPS and Unified would love to support Taylor’s Donuts and partner with them in any way. Who wouldn’t want that?”

Kailey wants that, apparently.

“We love that we are across from a vibrant high school community and are looking forward to opening!”

Cuyler Dunn and Perrin Goulter contributed to this report.