Dude's Donuts surviving and thriving in Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. - The familiar smells and sounds inside Dude's Donuts in Joplin tell customers everything is all right.

The Joplin institution was destroyed on May 22, 2011, but reopened in a new building six months later.

"Some of the customers even told us they received calls from people out of state and said the first thing they want to know -- 'What happened to Dude?'" owner Caroline Pendergraft said.

She and her husband Dude opened the original shop on South Main Street in 1954. Now in business with their son, Caroline said reopening after the tornado was never a question.

"What more would we want to do than what we've been doing?" she said.

Most of the items from the original store were lost in the tornado, but the Pendergrafts managed to salvage their trademark blue cash register. The relic draws people in because it's familiar. That's what Joplin has needed the past two years.

"Obviously, there were a lot of places that were kind of hard to hear that they had been destroyed, but Dude's was definitely one of those that just feels like you lost a lot," customer Codi Turner said.

In the year-and-a-half since Dude's reopened, Caroline said the customer loyalty lets her know they made the right decision.

"We'll be here as long as God wants us to. And we survived, so evidently he wasn't through with us yet," Caroline joked.

The Pendergrafts' home was located right behind the store and was badly damaged in the storm. The couple razed the home along with the store and moved to the country.

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