Portland’s robust doughnut scene received a shake-up this week with the announcement that The Holy Donut will be shutting down its Old Port location after service on October 19.
The Holy Donut — known for its creative use of mashed potatoes to create moist, fluffy doughnuts — revealed the news on Tuesday via social media.
“The Holy Donut team would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to everyone that has helped make our Exchange Street location a success over the last 7 years,” read a post on its Facebook page. “We are humbled by the amount of guests that chose to stop in for a treat. It is with a heavy heart that we announce that our last day of business at our Exchange Street location in the Old Port will be Monday October 19th.”
The post went on to reveal that “the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on this location” and that the company had decided not to renew its lease.
“We look forward to stepping back into the Old Port again in the future when the timing is right and we can secure a location that can better serve the needs of our loyal guests and our exceptional teammates,” the post concluded.
Jeff Buckwalter, CEO and co-owner of The Holy Donut, confirmed with Boston.com that the pandemic played a role, but also said that the closure was due to growing pains.
“We had been in that location for seven years,” Buckwalter said. “The biggest impact was really the effect it had on our guest experience. It was a very small shop. We were really running out of space for back of house and guests to have enough space to do what we needed to do.”
The decision to close was made months ago, with Buckwalter sharing that their lease was set to expire soon and that they were able to find somebody who was willing to sublet the remainder of the lease starting in November.
“The reality is that we had anticipated not renewing that lease some time ago,” he said. “Our lease expires at the end of February, so myself and my management team made the decision months ago that we were not going to renew.”
Founded by Leigh Kellis in 2011, The Holy Donut opened its first location in Portland on Park Avenue in 2012 before expanding to the Old Port’s Exchange Street outpost in 2013. A third location, on Route 1 in Scarborough, opened in 2017.
Despite losing a location, Buckwalter said the company is looking forward to expanding even further with a new outpost in Auburn coming in November.
“We’re just getting started with the set up at that location now, but we couldn’t be more excited,” Buckwalter said, noting that The Holy Donut made offers to all of its full-time staff to be placed at other locations. “That community has welcomed us with open arms, and we’re terribly excited to get it going up there.”
Fans of the Old Port location still have time to grab a potato doughnut at the Exchange Street shop before it closes on Monday, but Buckwalter isn’t ruling out a return to the neighborhood.
“Certainly that’s a market we want to continue to be a part of, and it’s been fantastic for our brand and for our staff,” he said. “So when the right opportunity surfaces, we’ll be back in the Old Port for sure.”
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