From left – By the Dozen Bakery co-owner Martha Nelson, Mayor Steve Johnson and By the Dozen Bakery co-owner Brent Nelson.


By The Dozen Bakery receives Machesney Park investment award
By Bob Balgemann
Mayor Steve Johnson is continuing to present investment awards to those who are making a difference in the village.
Most recently he recognized By The Dozen Bakery at 8324 N. Second St. and gave a plaque to members of the Nelson family. It served as a token of what they and others associated with the business have done for the community, since it first opened in 1954 in Loves Park.
It has been at the North Second Street location in Machesney Park since 1994.
There usually is a story or two behind a business that’s been around for a long time. And that was the case with By The Dozen Bakery.
Martha Nelson told the mayor, village board and others at the March 18 meeting about how the village played an important role in their settling at their current location.
“My husband and I scouted out probably 10 or 11 places along 251 that we liked,” she remembered. “But the one we liked most was the one we’re at now.”
Then-Mayor Frank Bauer contacted the property owner for them. After the sale and improvements to an existing building, she recalled the mayor saying he wanted the first donut off the press. But sadly, she said that didn’t happen because he passed away before the first donut was made.
She said the family will be eternally grateful for the help they received from the village. They participated in Machesney Park’s revolving loan program and, smiling, she added they “may be one of the few who paid the loan back.”
That was a challenging time for the Nelsons because “we had to provide one job for every $10,000 or something like that, and we wondered if we could pull that off,” she explained. They did just that and she said today, they have 28 employees, “so we’re very proud of that.”
Village Clerk Lori Mitchell introduced the agenda item, and she had some additional information about the business and the family.
She said the store was successful and grew in the 1960s, with the name changing to Donut Land. After relocating to North Second Street, she said there was another name change, to By The Dozen Bakery. And the reputation continued as always, “having a variety of great-tasting donuts.”
The business continued to grow, she said, and evolved into what it is today, a family-owned, local bakery that produces a wide range of donuts, cookies and specialty cakes. Beyond that, she said, “The Nelsons have been generous with their time and facility. They have served on many committees and fund-raisers in the (Harlem) high school district. They have been eager to host in-house events and continually offer their support as they serve the citizens of the community and northern Illinois with pride.”
Mayor Johnson then presented the plaque, saying it was his honor to do so.
Brent Nelson responded by saying thank you to everyone, the board, mayor and the community. “Machesney has always been great to us,” he said. “I’m born and raised here so it’s been great. I want to thank my mom and dad for their hard work.”

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