It started with a surplus of apples: An inside look at Delicious Orchards
In its 108 year history Delicious Orchards has grown from a farm to a Jersey Shore landmark staple that bakes pies and their famous apple cider donuts.
In the beginning, the Barclay family started by planting 100 acres of apple trees.
Carroll W. Barclay took ownership following World War II and by 1959 there was a surplus of apples, so a 12-hundred foot building was constructed on Route 537 where the wholesale market became a retail market.
Current part-owner Mike McDonald, whose father Bill worked for the Barclay's, says the pies and donuts came next.
"Carroll's wife Janet then started making pies and it's the recipe we still use today," McDonald said. "We started making the apple cider donuts about a year or two later and it was an immediate success. It was a new concept at the time, the farm to table idea, and it went crazy."
McDonald says it was such a success that traffic started building up on Route 537 so in 1964, a new building was constructed on Route 34.
In fact in 2018, there was a lot of proof that the apple cider donuts are far and away their most popular item.
"Last year we made probably 1.3-million donuts," McDonald said. "We also don't use any preservatives."
Expansions between the 1970's and early 2000's made the Delicious Orchards we know it as today.
Their staple produce not only stays fresh but it comes from their farm or from other local farmers.
"We grow a fair amount of things on our property and we've also had to work with local farmers and growers a lot," McDonald said. "We help each other out, so if somebody is short on this type of apple we can trade for that apple. We grow what we can, we source what we can and we talk with farmers who may say 'oh, we're growing a lot of squash'."
They grow and source produce with farmers to help each other have just the right amount.
The transition from the Barclay family to the McDonald family, who owns Delicious Orchards now, began in 1977 when the Barclay's and Smiths (who was Carroll's brother-in-law) sold and turned over the business to Tom Gesualdo, Frank McMahon and Bill McDonald.
"My dad started working here when he was 19 and it's actually where he met my mom (Linda)," McDonald said. "Now it's me, my sisters Keri and Erin, my brother Chris and my parents and we're all still actively involved in the business."
Mike said you'll be able to spot his parents on the floor, where Bill stocks produce and Linda is behind the coffee counter.
One of the reasons it is a place where people keep coming back is that the long standing traditions and services have stayed the same and there's only one location with no plans to expand.
"We're proud of the generational following that we've built and I think consistency is so important and the way we treat our customers and employees matters a lot to us," McDonald said. "Doing what we do really well is something that we're proud of and I think that customers both in Monmouth and Ocean and the greater New Jersey and tri-state area know that."
Learn more about Delicious Orchards with Mike McDonald: