Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — When Paula Huber arrived at her new donut shop on Sheridan Drive at 4:15 a.m. Wednesday morning, there were already customers waiting outside for the 5 a.m. opening.
“It has been busy,” Huber, the owner of Paula’s Donuts, said. “I’m happy, we are so excited.”
For most of the day Wednesday, lines stretched out the door and cars packed the parking lot and nearby streets. Huber, along with her husband and daughter, stayed behind the counter to help serve the customers in her new town.
On Sunday, Huber closed up her City of Buffalo shop, where she operated for 17 years. She initially wanted to stay at the locale and expand, but uncertainty about plans for the plaza there at the corner of Englewood Avenue led her to look for a new space.
“The owners kept saying they would sell the building, and then the deals fell through,” Huber said. “Everyone in the plaza started leaving when their leases were up, and we decided it was time to make the move.”
The new town shop, located at 2319 Sheridan Drive, has plenty to offer and more than double the space — up from 1,700 square feet to 3,500, Huber said. The space has allowed for multiple tables inside and outside. The shop also features as classic, diner-style booths, where customers were ordering coffee and their favorite donuts — everything from frosted angel cream to glazed crullers.
Huber spent nearly two decades both working for and owning chain restaurants, such as Dunkin Donuts, before establishing her own business as a go-to stop for lovers of the fried goodness. She said besides her experience, the secret to her success was simple.
“I make donuts the way I like to eat them,” Huber said. “You go to chains and you end up saying, ‘where’s the filling, get out the microscope.’”
Customers in line Wednesday said they appreciate Huber’s approach, as well as the filling.
“I’m out in Amherst, so this is a lot better for me,” Marikay Wachala said, noting that she’d probably pick out a peanut stick. “I grew up on Freddie’s Donuts, on Main Street. That closed, but this fills the void.”
Although there were plenty of new customers from the area, some regulars from the Buffalo shop stopped in, too. Jo Schweitzer, who lived behind the old Kenmore Avenue shop, spoke to the value of Paula’s.
“We have so few businesses that are local and give back to the community,” she said. “They make an amazing product, but it’s more than a donut shop ... when you see someone putting their heart and soul into what they do, you want to support them.”
Although Schweitzer said she is sad to see Paula leave her neighborhood, she is also glad to see her succeed.
“She is a wonderful person. It is definitely bittersweet,” she said.
The shop is open from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily, and an official grand opening celebration will take place next month.
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley