Donut Boy

Tessa Fahey is director of restaurant operations at Donut Boy in Dubuque after a recent change in ownership. “We’re so excited to keep this business alive and locally owned,” Fahey said.

A popular Dubuque doughnut shop has changed hands, but its new operators insist that the traditions of the longtime business will remain intact.

Donut Boy was purchased by Paul Fahey on the final day of October, according to his daughter, Tessa Fahey, who serves as director of restaurant operations.

The business, located at 1646 Asbury Road, has been a fixture in Dubuque since the early 1950s. It had been owned by Ed Gau for the past 24 years.


Tessa Fahey said her family is thrilled to take the reins of a business with such a rich history.

“We are honored to be part of that tradition,” she said. “We’re so excited to keep this business alive and locally owned.”

The Fahey family is no stranger to local restaurant operations. Paul owns a trio of Dairy Queen restaurants in Dubuque and one in Peosta, Iowa, as well as a Fazoli’s restaurant in Dubuque.

While the purchase of Donut Boy was finalized only nine days ago, changes to the facility began weeks before that.

Tessa said crews have redone the ceiling and flooring, added new decor, repainted the facility, purchased new tables and installed a new “chalkboard wall” that will display artwork and menu items.

But while the building itself has received a facelift, its trademark treats will largely remain the same.

“Nothing has changed with regards to the doughnuts,” Tessa said. “We’ll have the same ingredients and the same bakers baking them.”

The recent sale of the business marks the end of an era.

Gau purchased Donut Boy in 1995 and remained at the helm of the business through October.

He said he recently determined it was “time to retire” from the baking business and emphasized that the Faheys made him “a good offer” for the company.

Gau said he enjoyed working alongside his longtime employees and visiting with his loyal customers.

“It was a good run and it has been a great place to work,” said Gau. “I’m glad it’s staying (open). I hope it goes on forever.”

For Tessa Fahey, it didn’t take long to realize that a group of “regulars” are a core part of the business. She noted that the same group comes in almost daily to sip coffee, read the newspaper, enjoy a doughnut and shoot the breeze.

Dubuque resident Ron Brandel is among the customers who frequent Donut Boy.

“I am here just about every morning — at least five or six times a week,” Brandel said Friday. “I love the hospitality, and my friends all come here.”

Tessa Fahey said Donut Boy employs 15 workers. While she doesn’t expect any new hires in the immediate future, she said the workforce could grow over time.

Other minor changes — like a new front door and some new signage outside the shop — are on the way in the near future.

Customers, however, can rest assured that the company’s straightforward moniker will remain the same.

“I think if we ever changed the name, people would still call it Donut Boy anyway,” Tessa said with a laugh.