PORTLAND, Maine — The Holy Donut, maker of one of Maine’s most popular food products, will close its flagship location in the Old Port next week.
Holy Donut co-owner and CEO Jeff Buckwalter called it a strategic move, saying the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic “expedited the decision.”
“It was simply too small for the customer flow we have and it was impacting our guests’ experience,” Buckwalter said.
The store remained popular, with lines outside the door this summer even during pandemic restrictions, according to a neighbor.
As the pandemic unfolded in March, Mayor Kate Snyder and other city officials urged landlords to create payment plans for tenants unable to pay rent because of the outbreak.
Earlier this year, Buckwalter secured deals from landlords for two of three Holy Donut locations in the Portland area, as well as its manufacturing center. Only the Exchange Street location — owned by Joe Soley, one of the area’s biggest landlords — did not budge on rent relief at the time, according to Buckwalter.
Solely owns several prominent Portland-area commercial properties in the Old Port, near the Maine Mall and at 5 Monument Square, an 84,000-square-foot midrise downtown.
Half a dozen of Soley’s commercial tenants told the Bangor Daily News earlier this year that he expected full payment of rent in the pandemic. In April, Buckwalter said he considered landlords a partner in business.
“None of us should have to [weather] this pain alone,” he said. “We all share in this pain together.”
A phone call to PJ Roberts, Soley’s property manager, was not immediately returned.
The Holy Donut is not the first prominent Exchange Street business to close since the pandemic. The Paper Patch, a stationery store that opened in 1969, closed in September.
The Holy Donut opened its 7 Exchange St. shop in 2013, and will close after service on Monday. It’s unclear what will take over that spot.
Locations on Park Avenue in Portland and Route 1 in Scarborough will remain open.