The Holy Donut plans to open a drive-through shop, production facility and offices on Route 1 in Arundel. Tammy Wells photo

ARUNDEL – The Holy Donut, founded by Leigh Kellis, who began making doughnuts at home in 2011 and has since established shops in Portland, Auburn and Scarborough, plans a new location in Arundel. The Route 1 facility is expected to feature a drive-through, doughnut production facility and offices at 1182 Portland Road.

The 3.5-acre site is the former location of the Seafood Center, Arundel Ice Cream Shop and a church. The property was recently purchased by Seasalt Holding Company, LLC. According to documents on file with the town of Arundel, The Holy Donut plans renovations and to lease the property for 21 years.

Arundel Planning Board conducted a review of the application on Aug. 3, and scheduled a site walk for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16.

Sam Lebel of Acorn Engineering said The Holy Donut would employ 22 people at the Arundel location.

“(The Holy Donut) started very humbly out of my sister-in-law’s kitchen and we spent the last nine years building the company,” CEO Jeff Buckwalter told the Arundel Planning Board.

He said the location was chosen primarily for the production facility, but at the same time there was an opportunity for a drive-through retail shop on the site.

“We’re excited to be stepping into York County,” said Buckwalter.

Kellis outlined how she started the business on The Holy Donut website.

“I knew I wanted to make doughnuts from scratch, using as many local ingredients as possible,” she wrote. “I started experimenting with doughnut recipes in my kitchen in 2011 and after some trial and error, came up with a winner. The (not-so) secret ingredient: fresh Maine potatoes. Adding mashed potatoes gives the doughnuts a delicious moist texture that makes them just melt in your mouth.”

Kellis  started selling doughnuts wholesale by the dozen, reaching 100 dozen a week – and moved the business into a commercial space on Park Avenue in Portland in 2012. Then came a shop on Exchange Street, which closed in October 2020, a shop on Route 1 in Scarborough and the latest, in Auburn, in January.

Arundel Planner Lee Jay Feldman said the planning board asked for renderings of the proposed production facility and for the Maine Department of Transportation permit application for the change of use on the street access to Route 1.

The next step following the site walk, which is open to the public, is for the Planning Board to schedule a public hearing on the proposal.

Sam Lebel of Acorn Engineering, representing Seasalt Holdings, LLC, said each of the three buildings on the site will be renovated internally as necessary to support the various aspects of the business operation. He said a fourth building on the site, which had been used for storage, is in poor condition and would be demolished.

“Overall, few site modifications are proposed with the bulk of the proposal occurring at the back of the site to facilitate a small drive-through,” Lebel wrote in the application to the planning board. “The site will be accessed by the existing driveway off Portland Road/Route 1 with drivers being guided by a modified landscape island, directional arrows and wayfinding signage.”

The doughnut shop will  feature a walk-up window and picnic tables, he said, though most business is expected to be at the drive-through.

Proposed hours for the location are 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Company officials have said they would like to have the new facility open by the end of 2021.

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