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Making donuts, embracing duty

After tragic loss, Katelyn Mohler ushers in a new era at TatoNut

Photography by Brandi Stage Portraiture | Hair and makeup by Bria Fowlers, Elle Louise LLC

At the tender age of 25, Katelyn Mohler is leading a beloved Ocean Springs institution into the future.

Co-owning Ocean Springs’ TatoNut Donut Shop, which has been in her family for generations, was not part of Katelyn’s life plan. However, the adaptable young woman has stepped up to continue the shop’s legacy. As it happens, both she and her father, David Mohler, took over TatoNut at age 23.

“My dad was the best role model,” Katelyn says. “He cared so much about what he did every day. He poured his heart and soul into the donuts, and that’s why TatoNut has the reputation it does today.”

Katelyn and her dad

“My dad was the best role model. He cared so much about what he did every day. He poured his heart and soul into the donuts, and that’s why TatoNut has the reputation it does today.”

After David’s tragic passing a few years ago, loved ones remembered how he took on every task with a smile and a can-do attitude — a trait his daughter seems to have inherited along with the business.

“I hope to keep the TatoNut tradition going for generations,” Katelyn says. “I want to continue to grow the business by adding new options to keep our customers coming back for years to come.”


The TatoNut story began with Katelyn’s grandfather, Robert Mohler, who opened a Spudnut shop in 1960 to help support his large family of seven boys. A few years later, he broke off from the Spudnut franchise, and TatoNut was born.

Many of Katelyn’s earliest memories involve the business, which uses potato flour in its popular confections.

David Mohler  

“My parents left for work super early, so my grandmother was the one to get us ready for school,” Katelyn recalls. “She would bring us by the shop each morning and let us ‘help out.’ We loved bringing donuts to our teachers and classmates.”

When Katelyn was 12, her younger sister, Sophia, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer known as DIPG. The Mohlers had to close the donut shop temporarily while they focused on her treatment in Houston. Sadly, Sophia died from the condition a year later.

“Losing a sister at such a young age was hard on both my parents and me,” Katelyn says. “I learned the importance of living in the moment and appreciating what you have now; you never know when things could change.”

David and his wife, Theresa, resumed operations at TatoNut as soon as possible, and Katelyn went on to graduate with honors from St. Patrick Catholic High School and the University of Mississippi. Before her college graduation in the spring of 2020, she accepted a job with the Walt Disney Company and planned to move to Orlando, Florida.

Then the pandemic struck — and David contracted COVID-19 in January of 2021. Compounded by a previously diagnosed lung disease, the virus proved fatal, and David died only 48 hours after going into the hospital.

“After losing my sister in 2011, and then my dad 10 years later, I never thought I would have half my family left at the age of 23 before I had even gotten married,” Katelyn says. “It’s a daily struggle not made for the weak, but I do believe I am making my dad proud.”

“It’s a daily struggle not made for the weak, but I do believe I am making my dad proud.”


After David’s passing, Katelyn faced a difficult decision: Was she ready to take on TatoNut? Recognizing that the store was a community staple, and a treasured part of so many lives, she sacrificed her own ambitions to work alongside her mother and keep it running.

“I was ready for change and to do something new; God had other plans for me, though,” Katelyn says. “I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I know my new job was put on hold so that I could be here for my family.”

The shop was shuttered from January to June of 2021, and she took the opportunity to complete some overdue interior updates. The makeover incorporates and honors TatoNut’s history in an improved, revamped space. Numerous photos on the walls pay tribute to David and the store’s past while digital menus and a new pastry showcase give the store a modern feel.

“Overall TatoNut is the same as when my dad was here; every day, we kept all the classics we have always been known for …,” Katelyn says. “I have added a donut of the month to the menu that changes every month and donut hole cakes. We take a lot of custom orders for birthdays, weddings and events that we were not able to do before.”

David would not sell a donut if it wasn’t up to the TatoNut standard — a quality-centered mindset his daughter shares. Although she has questioned whether she is too young to accept such a large responsibility, Katelyn knows that the only way to succeed is to try, and the only way to learn is to do.

“Overall, the community and customers have been very supportive,” she says, “and I could not be more grateful.”


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