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July 29, 2021

Eighty 8 Donuts finds new Portland sweet spot, as Holy Donut preps for return

Eight8Donuts food truck Photo / Renee Cordes Eighty 8 Donuts is having a busy summer in Portland with its food truck, shown here on the Eastern Promenade last Saturday, and a new shop on Federal Street in Maine's biggest city.

Portland's donut scene is hot this summer, with Eighty 8 Donuts finding a new sweet spot in the Old Port, and Holy Donut prepping for a return to that part of town.

In addition to a food truck named Rosie that's been a regular in Maine's biggest city since 2013, Eighty 8 Donuts has a seasonal shop in Carrabassett and opened a second brick-and-mortar location in the Old Port last week.

The shop is at 225 Federal St., and the owner says business is off to a busy start.

"We have had a terrific reception for our new shop so far," owner Ellen O'Keefe told Mainebiz. "We are so fortunate to have a lot of love for our donuts, so these early days have included a good mix of people that know us and others just discovering us."

She said the new place currently employs seven people in addition to the two owners, though they may be adding staff in the coming months.

"We may be looking for one to two more," she said, "especially when some return to school or when Sugarloaf opens."

In the longer term, O'Keefe said, "We won't rule out the idea of an additional truck or trailer at some point. It's a disappointment to say 'no' to anyone for their special day — but that isn't the works currently."

The food truck, in Portland from around April to October, can usually be found on the Eastern Promenade and Thompson's Point, and is also available for private bookings.

Elsewhere in the Old Port, the Holy Donut is gearing up for a homecoming of sorts, in the space formerly occupied by Bill's Pizza at 177 Commercial St.

Holy Donut storefront on Commercial St. in Portland
Photo / Renee Cordes
Coming soon to Commercial Street, as the sign on the window says: The Holy Donut.

As the build-out and preparations continue, there's a big "Coming Soon" sign in the window.

On Friday, however, there wasn't yet a firm opening date, according to Ryan Howe, the company's director of business operations.

The Holy Donut, a Portland-based family-owned business, was founded in 2012, when it opened its first shop on Park Avenue in Portland. The business expanded to Exchange Street the following year, but closed that location in 2020, citing the pandemic's blow to business.

But the door to the Old Port was never completely shut, as the company said it looked forward to "stepping back into the Old Port again in the future."

The Holy Donut also has a location on U.S. Route 1 in Scarborough, the company's largest location, which features a drive-thru that has been busy throughout the pandemic. Another branch opened earlier this year at a former Tim Horton's in Auburn.

Since the start of the pandemic the company has also forged a distribution partnership with Hannaford Supermarkets, which Holy Donut co-owner and CEO Jeff Buckwalter talked about in an episode of the Mainebiz podcast "The Day That Changed Everything."

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