The COVID-19 epidemic has forced businesses to get creative with peddling their wares to folks under stay-at-home orders. Rhody donut icon PVDonuts has gotten especially crafty by rolling out a delivery program that brings their tasty treats to the streets of Newport, Cranston, Pawtucket and more. I chatted with Paul Kettelle, one of PVDonuts’ co-owners, who gave us the down-low on Doughlivery!
Morgan Capodilupo (Motif): So, how did the idea of Doughlivery come to be?
Paul Kettelle: Last year was one of our largest yet for weddings, so we bought a Ford Transit to accommodate delivering donuts and donut walls for weddings and other special events all around New England. We had intended to use it even more this year, but COVID-19 had other plans. We wanted to make delivery an option, but didn’t want to lose a 25%+ commission to delivery services such as GrubHub, UberEats and Postmates, so we figured that we’d take it in-house and offer a limited delivery service ourselves and make use of our van!
MC: What has the community response been like?
PK: The community response has been overwhelmingly amazing. Folks have been SO excited about having this made available to them, especially for those who don’t want to venture out of their homes just yet. We’ve received a ton of positive feedback and love seeing people’s smiling faces through their doors when we arrive or pull away — you can’t beat that.
MC: How has running as a curbside / takeout only restaurant been going for you during the COVID-19 pandemic? Have you learned anything about the business during this time?
PK: A majority of our business was already takeout to start, so the hardest part of the transition for us has been limiting in-store occupancy to only two patrons at a time. It’s no secret that our cafe is usually an incredibly lively place, so aside from the obvious financial hit, this was a huge shock to us as a huge part of what we do is bringing people together to enjoy some sweets. We have learned a lot about our internal processes and are using this time to make marginal improvements that will make our business run better now and in the future — we’re all about trying to make a positive out of a negative, and there is A LOT of opportunity present during this pandemic to do so.
MC: Do you have any plans for new things / collaborations as the RI economy starts to reopen?
PK: We’ve been putting some feelers out there and gauging interest from other folks about doing collaborations, but nothing is set in stone because of all the uncertainty. We recently did something with Providence Bagel, Burgundian Waffles, Borealis Coffee and Butterbang Croissants called the Rhody Breakfast box; the reception was great and $10 from each sale went to the RI Community Food Bank! We imagine doing more collaborations like this — to say we don’t have a million ideas floating around would be a lie!
PVDonuts Doughlivery is currently running as a pop-up, so be sure to follow them on Instagram @pvdonuts to see when they’ll be rolling through your neighborhood!