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At Thee Heavenly Donut, work begins before the sun rises. By the time the typical college student gets up, thousands of desserts are fresh out of the oven and ready to be delivered.

The popular donut shop has been providing the Baton Rouge community with its baked goods for 18 years, open from 4 a.m. to midnight, and serving up kolaches, apple fritters and cinnamon rolls in the early hours. While everyone else is sleeping, they’re feeding shift workers, police officers and others in the morning crowd. And since August, they’ve also been feeding University students. Kara Castille, owner of Thee Heavenly Donut, has a contract with LSU Dining, which allows it to provide pastries to the CC’s on campus, as well as the desserts for City Pork. She says that its products have been appreciated on campus.

“They are definitely seeing a difference in the quality of the cinnamon rolls, apple fritters and pastries that we’re providing there, and of course, I can tell that the students do love it, just from talking to the staff members that have been working there for a while,” Castille said.

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Castille, who runs the business with her husband, makes sure that everything is freshly made and delivered each day. Along with donut-making, Thee Heavenly Donut does catering and delivers products for different organizations in Baton Rouge.

As part of Thee Heavenly Donut’s wide range of offerings, Castille likes to create many different dessert combinations, making everything from scratch. The store is especially known for its fried king cake, which is fried, glazed and then filled with the customer’s choice of icing.

“We make our own dough, our own glazes, our own chocolates,” Castille said. “We make our own cake donuts, apple fritters and then we go into the whole roll of all the other donuts. We’re more than a typical donut shop, more of a restaurant-style cafe because we offer so much more than a typical donut shop offers.”

Donuts have been a huge part of Castille’s life since she was 4 years old. Growing up in her mom’s donut shop made her realize that she also had a passion for dessert-making. After Castille graduated from high school, she moved to Baton Rouge and started building her own business at the age of 18.

Castille has been running the shop for almost two decades, eventually even meeting her husband in the store, when he was one of her customers. She came up with the store name when she was working in the kitchen with her mother.

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“We were in the kitchen one day playing around with some doughnuts, and we had some light buttercream icing we had made, which is in our chocolate and our caramel, and we kind of looked at each other jokingly,” Castille said. “We were like, ‘This is heavenly, oh thee heavenly donuts.’ We just came up with the name through a spontaneous thought.”

Thee Heavenly Donut also makes a point of being involved in the Baton Rouge community. Leftover baked goods are given to the Veteran’s Home as snacks for the veterans. It also gives some products to Baton Rouge shelters, and works with other charity organizations, like food pantries and the Junior League of Baton Rouge.

“Any time I have the opportunity to use my products to shed light on a good organization, I always take advantage of the opportunity,” Castille said.

She wants Thee Heavenly Donut to be an important place for people and hopes that it will also be important to University students as they get older and start to have families.

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“We know that those students will one day have families of [their] own and bring [their] kids in for a sprinkle doughnut, and we’ll get to watch [their] families grow as we’ve watched other people grow,” Castille said. “We really try to be a part of what is so near and dear to the Baton Rouge community.”

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