A line forms outside The Holy Donut on Exchange Street in July. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The Holy Donut announced Tuesday that it’s closing its shop on Exchange Street in the Old Port, deciding not to renew its lease because of the “tremendous impact” the pandemic has had on business there.

Monday will be the shop’s final day in business.

Ryan Howe, director of business operations, said the company has been planning to move out of the Exchange Street location for a while and search for a larger space in the Old Port, but the pandemic has moved up those plans. The Exchange Street shop is known for long lines of customers snaking down the street. Those lines can be partially explained by the popularity of the donuts, but Howe said there’s just simply not enough room in that location for either customers or employees – even during the pandemic, when business has been down about 50 percent.

“There were times we could have almost 40 people in the front part” of the shop, he said. “It was nuts. For any customers who wanted to sit and enjoy themselvesit wasn’t really an option because it was always packed.”

Leaving the space now, he said, keeps the business “nimble enough to be able to move when the right space opens.”

Another food operation is expected to take over the Exchange Street spot, although Howe would not identify the business because that deal is still in the works.

The Holy Donut also has shops on Park Avenue in Portland and Route 1 in Scarborough. The business, which has received national attention for its creative flavors of potato doughnuts, such as maple bacon and dark chocolate sea salt, recently started selling its products in Hannaford supermarkets and announced last month plans to open an Auburn location. Those moves were part of a long-range plan that includes opening more doughnut shops, Howe said, but they came about more quickly because of the pandemic.

This growth thing isn’t coming to an end anytime soon,” Howe said. “We’re moving at a pace that we can safely expand. I have folks on the bench that we’re training, specifically so we can get them stores down the line.”

The Exchange Street location was open for seven years. It had seven employees, all of whom were offered jobs in other Holy Donut locations.

We’re going to be back in the Old Port as soon as we find the right space that makes sense for us,” Howe said. “That may not be until mid next year.

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