John’s Space Age Donuts turns 50 this year, but it’s new again with every sunup

John’s Space Age Donuts doesn’t seem like the sort of enterprise that has — or much needs — a Facebook page, though have one it does. For 50 years, the shop (8124 Floyd, Overland Park) has anchored a modest commercial duplex at the southern tip of downtown OP. Longtime neighbor Villa Capri, the night-shift carbo yang to Space Age’s deep-fried dawn-patrol yin, went away awhile back — replaced by the ultimate admonishment against fried dough, Simple Science Juices — but John’s endures. The doughnuts aren’t oversized or postmodern. The business isn’t about innovation. It is instead a testament to family tradition, intergenerational word-of-mouth and reliable satisfaction. Your older sister or your dad, or maybe your dad’s dad, started coming here a long time ago — buying and consuming fresh doughnuts made by the same people, day after day — and so you did, too. It’s an ideal stop for the young suburban driver with a freshly minted license and a corresponding need for legit destinations. And it’s a fine place for the older you to snack on America’s proletarian pastry and let it soak up your nostalgia. The hours and the offerings go unchanged; there’s nothing you need to verify online. John’s is simply there. And you are simply glad.

Inside the humble doughnut shop, production starts at 3 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends. Nearly every day you’ll find someone parked out front waiting for the shop to open. Many are regulars looking for a spot at the bar to sip coffee and read the paper.

John Taylor rolls out dough on the store’s “newest” piece of machinery. This roller arrived here in 1988.

Taylor transports freshly rolled chocolate dough. John’s makes 100 dozen doughnuts on a weekday and 200 dozen on weekends. It takes 100 pounds of flour and 6 gallons of water to make 100 dozen.

Taylor’s son, Matt, puts a rack of cake doughnuts up to cool. He’s been working at the shop for 22 years.

John Taylor lays out doughnuts and holes, which he cuts by hand. “I’m a little faster than the machine,” he says.

John Taylor cuts out doughnuts on a table from his family’s original shop, Dixie Cream Donuts, which was located at 31st and Troost. A lot of the equipment and racks here came from that shop, which opened in 1960.

Matt glazes doughnuts fresh out of the fryer, then adds sprinkles.

John (left) and brother Rodney own and operate the shop. You can find them there every day it’s open.

John’s Space Age hasn’t adjusted a recipe since the day it opened.

Rodney serves one of the regulars as the sun comes up again over the shop.

Categories: Food & Drink