“I’m done with potatoes, at least for now,” said a grinning, Leigh Kellis, founder and part-owner of The Holy Donut, a Portland success story unparralled in the area because it produces donuts using potatoes from northern Maine. The Holy Donut also made news last month when it closed it’s flagship Exchange Street shop to find a larger space for its bustling business whose waiting customers often formed lines that spilled out into Exchange Street. .
A former sandwich shop at 89 Market Street, it is being converted into Leigh’s new retail business with a message: Use less plastic. Clean up our oceans and save them, their inhabitants and our planet. Leigh is aligning her message with other local businesses who share her vision of a clean ocean she said this afternoon at 89 Market Street – the site of her new retail business: The Wave.
The Wave will offer “Wicked Joe” (organic) coffee, cookies and baked goods to go until restrictions set by the State are lifted. A cafe is not planned until those same restrictions are lifted.
Additionally, merchandise such as candles, apparel, Sea Bags and other locally sourced goods will be on sale at The Wave as soon as the permitting process with the city of Portland is completed. It will be a plastic free boutique. “These walls are meant for artists,” Leigh said as she surveyed the high ceilings capping off bare walls that will be filled with ocean related art work of distinctive quality.
The cookies will be prepared by Baristas and Bites on Fore Street. The Woodford Club has a commercial kitchen in which the baked goods will originate. “I’m always open to recipe ideas. Maybe we’ll even use a few Aroostook County potatoes in there somewhere,” said a laughing Leigh.
Originally, Leigh had intended to be a Spanish teacher having been a Spanish major in college. But that goal took a different turn while she was working at Otto’s, the pizza guru in Portland. Mike Keon, an owner of Otto’s, where she was employed at the time, suggested she open a donut shop using potatoes. The next day she went in search of a donut recipe using potatoes. Leigh found one. It was in the cookbook “The Joy of Cooking,” at the then Barnes & Noble at the Maine Mall. Shortly thereafter the flagship shop on Exchange Street was opened. Keon, Leigh’s mentor, and his business partner currently have over a dozen pizza shops in Maine and Massachusetts.
Artists are very much on Leigh’s mind these days as she works on another Portland project to support them: Establishing another creative venue is very much a work-in-progress about which she has less to say than The Wave. Two musicians who figure prominently in this project are Amir Eason and Stennett Samms. Eason is from Brooklyn, New York. Samms was raised in Jamaica. He made his way to Portland because of its reputation as a non-violent city where immigrants can feel safe and protected.
Amir and Stennett are neighbors in Portland who have teamed up to do construction work. The two are looking forward to providing “feel good music, happy music with good vibes” when a venue is secured. When asked where a vacant venue might be found that is large enough to accommodate this creative endeavor, Amir blurted out: “Trump Tower!”
“I’ve learned a lot from my years in business. Be honest and direct and have contracts with people,” said Leigh as she prepares to embark on a new enterprise with her daughter, Avery. Leigh is a part-owner of The Holy Donut with her brother-in-law, a “shrewd” business man, Jeff Buckwalter.