As small business owners, Drake Pothier and his wife, Rachel, were looking to invest in another small business in late 2019.

They never planned to purchase a doughnut shop; he owns an insurance agency, and she owns a travel agency. Neither had any prior restaurant experience.

But they fell in love with a quaint doughnut shop called Village Deaux at 7992 1/2 Maurice Ave.

"We hadn't been there before," Drake Pothier said. "The shop itself is really, really cute. It's not like your typical doughnut shop. It's more cafe-style. They'd just done a really good job designing the interior. It's very small, but intimate, and it jut felt very comfortable to us very early on."

The Pothiers figured the Maurice doughnut shop would allow them the flexibility to be home in the afternoons with their three school-aged children and would be a place the kids could help out at on the weekends.

As seasoned small business owners, they knew to expect the unexpected. They just didn't know the unexpected would be a pandemic.

The Pothiers took ownership of Village Deaux in mid-February, a week before Mardi Gras and a month before Acadiana's first known coronavirus case.

"We were still in the throws of Mardi Gras when we took over," Drake Pothier said. "It was very eye-opening to see how fast everything moved and how quickly you have to service the customers. Having not worked in that environment before, it took a little while to adjust to that. It was a little bit of a shock to us, just how fast things moved."

Then, the slow Lenten season arrived, and with it, construction on La. 167 in front of the shop. Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"March was a scary month, especially coming right out of February, the busiest time of the year for a doughnut shop. It was scary," Drake Pothier said.

The Pothiers made the difficult decision to shut the shop down completely for the month of April. 

Because they had not owned the business for long, they didn't qualify for the federal Paycheck Protection Program to assist with payroll and other business expenses. They still found a way to pay the employees who had stayed with the doughnut shop through the ownership change.

In May, they reopened with drive-thru service and a fresh mindset. They couldn't rely on regulars picking up doughnuts on their way to school, work or church anymore because of the stay-at-home order.

"We've tried to make the doughnut shop a destination for people," Drake Pothier said. "You can rely on a big portion of the business from people who simply want doughnuts on any given day for school or work, but we'e tried to expand it to get repeat customers because you're creating something people want."

They introduced doughnut bread pudding, fried chicken biscuits and keto-friendly items for those looking for low-carb options.

They also introduced a doughnut of the month.

This month's creation is a banana pudding filled doughnut topped with crushed Nilla wafer cookies. Last month's creation was an oreo cheesecake doughnut filled with cream cheese and chocolate topped with crushed Oreo cookies.

"The freedom has just been really, really fun," Drake Pothier said. "I don't know that I gave it that much though before buying it — how fun it would be. When you hand someone a doughnut, it's always a fun interaction."

Village Deaux also offers espresso and other specialty drinks through Coffee Dash, a local shop affiliated with the doughnut business.

Coffee Dash also offers specials each month to bring customers to the business, especially during a time when fewer people are traveling regularly.

This month's specials include the iced s'mores latte, Snickers frappe, kid's cotton candy frappe and cold brew coffee with toffee creamer.

"We're holding steady," Drake Pothier said. "We're happy with where we are now."

Village Deaux is open from 6 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Sunday. Coffee Dash is open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to noon Sunday.

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