February 3rd, 2022

Meet the first of our Jigsaw stars! Ewan Fothringham is a quintessential Aussie bloke with a big heart. A former concreter followed by 12 years in the fishing industry, decided it was time for a change. But what does a shark fisherman do when searching for a career change? He makes donuts of course!

After months of researching and experimenting with recipes, Ewan risked it all in the hope that consumers would love his creations as much as he did. Ewan built his donut van from recycled materials, and with only $50 left in the bank he opened in November 2019 just in time for the much-needed Christmas rush.
In the prime location of Apex Park in Lakes Entrance Big Bears Donuts was born. It was a bit of a rough start, but with perseverance, determination and an unwavering trust in his business it wasn’t long before the word got out, Big Bears had the best donuts in the state……maybe even the country!
Like many businesses in East Gippsland Ewan was relying on a bumper summer to start making back some of the money he’d use to start the business, then disaster struck. The 2019-2020 Black Summer fires came and took a huge toll on most East Gippslanders, but for Ewan the opportunity to kick start his business was slipping away. Many businesses in East Gippsland rely on the busy summer trade to get them through the quiet months in the winter.
Then, as the fires were still smouldering, Covid-19 arrived on Australian shores and a global pandemic shut down the entire world, with the exception of essential services and a few take away businesses. So while we were all plummeted into a new unknown of empty supermarket shelves and jigsaw puzzles, Ewan was thinking of how to pivot his business in an ever changing world.
But there were two things that Ewan Fotheringham had in spades, self-belief and an incredible product, and the news was traveling fast! It wasn’t long before the many flavours of custard, jam, Nutella and original glaze were bringing people joy in a worldwide lockdown.
The success and growth of the business has seen Big Bears Donuts move from a food van to a shop front. Located on the Esplanade in Lakes Entrance, people travel from as far as Melbourne to taste what has officially been voted as Empty Eskie’s best donut in Victoria.
The team continues to provide great service, awesome coffee and incredible donuts! Unfortunately like many businesses in East Gippsland, Big Bears has been directly affected by Covid, and once again was forced to close during the busiest time for the third year running. But if the last three years is anything to go by, 2022 we will continue to see amazing things from this business.
Big Bears Donuts has shown us as our communities and the world changes around us, we all have the ability to adapt, grow and provide a little bit of joy to the people around us.

Big Bears Donuts Family