By Luke Furman for The Beaver County Times
People normally use words like “sprinkled,” “glazed” and “delicious” to describe doughnuts, but what about “historical?”
Brian Booth and Dave Bicksler, who co-own Oram’s Donuts in Beaver Falls, spoke to members of the Beaver Falls Historical Society in the Beaver Falls Carnegie Free Library on Wednesday, presenting the business’ history, its doughnut production and what the shop means to the local community.
The two purchased the business from its third owner, Jon George, in November 2014. Originally, they planned to license an Oram’s franchise location, but ended up buying the singular Beaver Falls shop, Bicksler said.
While Bicksler comes from Washington, D.C., Booth grew up a native to the region with his father and grandfather both teaching history and government in the Big Beaver Falls School District, adding to the local connection.
Betty Anderson, the director of the society’s museum and vice president of the society, said the presentation came about when Booth and Bicksler visited the museum to research their business’ background.
“We wanted to know the history of Oram’s and hopefully their secret recipe,” Anderson said. “Once you have an Oram’s doughnut, other doughnuts don’t compare.”
Anderson said that along with J’s News, Oram’s Donuts is one of two businesses in Beaver Falls that places donation jars for the historical society on its counter.
In the past, the Beaver Falls Historical Society, founded in 1944, has hosted Beaver Falls residents from all walks of life at its meetings, Anderson said.
On the third Wednesday of each month, the group holds a meeting in the downstairs of the library, where a portion of the 40 members meet. Over the 40 years worth of meetings, the society has learned about crocheting, bagpipes, tattooing, bluegrass music and much more.
“When I was growing up, I walked past Oram’s twice a day,” Tom Lesnick, a member of the society, said. “You always learn something new here.”
The members of the group learn about meetings through postcards that they place into a bag at the end and raffle off prizes. However, at this meeting, more people eyed up a table with two boxes of doughnuts than the table with prizes.
The two owners led a casual talk, chock-full of audience interjection, detailing how the business first opened 79 years ago in January 1938 as a doughnut wholesaler for other shops and bakeries. The store opened at 912 Seventh Ave. before relocated to its current building at 1406 Seventh Ave.
Booth said the large green “Oram’s” letters on the interior came from Schomer’s Bakery, long since closed.
The two credited the shop’s second owner, Tom Bradshaw, as “the father of the modern day Oram’s” and said he implemented a process to making the doughnuts. Booth and Bicksler updated the shop with modern technology like iPads instead of punch cards and an internet presence through a website and Facebook.
The shop employs about a dozen people full-time, Booth said, and uses 1,000 lbs. of dough each weekend with the most popular being cinnamon roll, the cream-filled doughnuts and the custard-filled doughnuts.
“Some people come in from out of town on the weekends to buy doughnuts and most of the feedback we get is that our staff is very friendly,” Bicksler said.
Booth and Bicksler said they take into account the historicity of the business they own and know residents have grown up eating extra large cinnamon rolls. The two have only created one new doughnut in their time owning the business, but plan to unveil a new doughnut with mango-flavored filling in the near future.
“We visit a lot of other doughnut stores to compare and I start to understand what makes this place special,” Bicksler said.
“Oram’s Donuts is larger than us. We are simply the caretakers,” Booth said.