After 17 years, Paula Huber will sell the last powdered angel creams, glazed fry cakes and chocolate frosted rings from her Kenmore Avenue location Sunday.
Paula’s Donuts will close at 308 Kenmore Ave. at 5 p.m. Sunday before reopening its new, larger location at 2319 Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda Wednesday.
“It’s bittersweet,” Huber said. “I hate to leave, but we’re excited about the new location.”
After losing the lease on her current store near the Budwey’s supermarket (a CVS Pharmacy is planned for the site), Huber said she searched for a nearby replacement, but couldn’t find a suitable space she could afford to renovate. Instead, she ended up 2.5 miles away at 2319 Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda.
“The people who walked here every day and actually built the business can’t get to the new place, so that’s why I’m torn,” Huber said. “These people become friends and we’re really going to miss them.”
Customers are going to miss Paula’s, too, though legions of them have vowed to follow her to the new location.
On Friday, Kenmore expatriates Matthew and Jasmine Welgoss stopped on their way back to Virginia to buy a dozen doughnuts and pose for pictures in front of the Kenmore location. Customers filled every inch of the store and its patio, ordering doughnuts, sipping coffee and wishing the staff well.
As much as they will miss their longtime location, Huber and her husband, Chuck, expect nothing but success on Sheridan Drive. Highly visible to vast amounts of passing traffic and situated near local landmarks Ted’s Hot Dogs, Caputi’s Pub, John & Mary’s and Anderson’s Frozen Custard; the Hubers are anticipating a 25 percent increase in business.
“We had outgrown the place really. The staff and the customers were tripping over each other. It was like doing the wave when they brought the doughnuts out, passing them over and under,” Huber said.
Paula’s will go from 1,400 square feet to 3,500 at the new store. Its larger kitchen will boast twice as many fryers and two additional baking benches to accommodate the 250 dozen doughnuts baked during three shifts over 24 hours each day.
At the current location, staff members crowd around a single cash register taking orders from customers packed onto the floor on the other side of the counter. At the new store, there are six registers with clearly designated lines divided by roped stanchions.
Like Paula’s Clarence location, the walls on Sheridan Drive are adorned with black and white historic photographs of Western New York (Huber is still looking for a photo of Jet Doughnuts, the now defunct local favorite that once occupied the same plaza). The spacious dining room, outfitted in warm earth tones, has seating for 51 people at tables, booths and counter stools plus a four-table outdoor patio.
Paula’s employs 77 people at its two locations.
“I’m torn, but it’s a good thing,” Huber said. “We needed more room. It’s going to be better for the staff and the customers.”