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Updated: October 14, 2020

Holy Donut will close Exchange Street store

Holy Donut storefront on Exchange St. in Portland Photo / Renee Cordes The lack of foot traffic has "deciimated" business at the Holy Donut store on Exchange St. in Portland, the company's director of business operations told Mainebiz.

Weeks after unveiling an expansion to Auburn, the Holy Donut on Tuesday announced plans to scale back in Portland.

The company, led by CEO Jeff Buckwalter, took to social media to announce its decision to permanently close its location on 7 Exchange St. in the city's Old Port, while leaving the door open for a return to the neighborhood at a later date.

“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 seven years," the company said in a statement released shortly before noon local time. "We are humbled by the amount of guests that chose to stop in for a treat."

It also said its last day of business on Exchange Street will be Monday, Oct. 19, and that it decided not to renew its lease given the "tremendous impact" of the pandemic on that location.

"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 company added.

It also noted that its other Portland location, on Park Avenue, "will continue to be there there for all of our Portland fans." 

Ryan Howe, the company's director of business operations, told Mainebiz that the lease on the Exchange Street location is up in February and that it has found someone suitable to sublet to, though that is still being negotiated.

He also said that the company is looking for new locations in the Old Port "and will be back as soon as we can."He said a best-case scenario would be for the 2021 tourist scenario "as long as we find a location that meets our requirements."

Besides a store on Park Street, which was its first to open, Holy Donut has a location on U.S. Route 1 in Scarborough, which has stepped up its drive-thru service during COVID and recently expanded distribution to food retailers.

Howe told Mainebiz that sales were way down at the Exchange St. site during COVID, saying: "The lack of foot traffic decimated this location. Also, due to the small lobby we had to restrict guest entry to meet State pandemic guidelines.  So, while the line remained long, sales were down between 60 to 70% this year and would have been much worse if we didn’t have online ordering."

The location employs seven people, and Howe told Mainebiz the goal was to not lay anyone off if possible.

"We’ve been planning this for some time," he added, "so we were able to reduce our staff by attrition to seven and excluding seasonal hires, everyone will be taking positions at our other locations." 

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