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Updated: September 17, 2020

Holy Donut will fill 'hole' in Auburn, add first location outside Portland area

Exterior photo of The Holy Donut location in Scarborough, with daffodils in the foreground. Courtesy / The Holy Donut The Holy Donut, whose location in Scarborough is shown here, is expanding to Auburn.

The Holy Donut is headed north.

Eight years after opening for business with a single shop in Portland, the popular donut maker and retailer is expanding to Auburn, in a former Tim Horton's coffee shop that's been vacant for five years. The new store, at 848 Minot Ave., will be Holy Donut's first location outside greater Portland.

"Auburn is a perfect fit for the Holy Donut brand," Ryan Howe, the company's director of business operations, told Mainebiz. "Auburn and the surrounding communities have always been among our top local supporters, and we are excited to introduce our brand to new neighbors."

Holy Donut, perhaps best known for its potato donuts, opened on Park Avenue in Portland in March 2012. Founder Leigh Kellis was honored on the Mainebiz Next list in 2015. Though still a co-owner, she is no longer involved in day-to-day operations, while CEO Jeff Buckwalter is now the lead owner.

Today the business also has locations on Exchange Street in Portland's Old Port and on U.S. Route 1 in Scarborough. The Scarborough store, which opened in 2017, is also in a former Tim Horton's.

Social buzz 

The Holy Donut announced its Auburn plans Wednesday on social media without further details. 

The surprise news generated instant internet buzz. Auburn-area locals cheered the news with OMGs and laments from people in other communities including Waterville and Biddeford. Summing up the social media responses, Howe tweeted, "Warmly received by folks around Auburn. Daggers thrown by everyone else for not opening a store in their city."

He told Mainebiz that the company expects to be in the new location by the end of this year. The company will be occupying space that's slightly smaller than its Scarborough store. 

Howe said Holy Donut will lease the property. The location, at the intersection of Minot Avenue and Hotel Road and about 3 miles from the downtowns of Auburn and Lewiston, "is perfectly suited to serve commuters and as a destination location for the area." The site is also less than a quarter-mile from a Dunkin' donut shop.

To staff its new location, Holy Donut will be looking to bring on about 20 employees in full- and part-time roles, led by General Manager Timothy Bennhoff, who will be transferring from the Park Avenue store.

"We couldn't ask for a better brand ambassador," Howe said.

The move comes amid a stepped-up drive-through operation in Scarborough in response to COVID and growing distribution at food retailers.

"Grocery store sales of our assorted three-packs, which started with Hannaford Supermarkets, has been quite the success for our company," Howe said. "We're currently in nine Hannaford Supermarket locations and recently added Bow Street Market in Freeport."

He said the company is also looking to launch a gluten-free three-pack in a few months.

Fall flavors

On the flavor front, Holy Donut is leveraging the current Maine apple season by featuring cider glazed, caramel apple and apple cinnamon sugar varieties.

"The apple lineup is a favorite that staff really look forward to each year," Howe said. "We also recently launched sweet potato pumpkin spice featuring Shipyard Brewing Co.'s Pumpkinhead Ale in the glaze and topped with their pumpkin spice rimming sugar. So good!"

Howe's own preference? "Sweet potato ginger glazed is my absolute favorite."

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September 17, 2020

Former Tim Horton’s locations are proving to be an ideal conversion opportunity for The Holy Donut. Best wishes for continued success!

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