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It's a new day at the Donut Haven

New owner bans smoking at former all-night shop

Donut Haven still sells doughnuts, but it's no longer a haven for smokers and Medford's denizens of the night.

Hoping to stimulate more business by dispelling Donut Haven's reputation as a hole-in-the-wall dive, new owner Scott Brechtel last month banned smoking inside the establishment and cut back the graveyard-and-Greyhound hours.

— — — Company name:

Donut Haven

— — Product:

Donuts, patries, specialty breads

— — Location

: 1173 Court St., Medford

— — Owner

: Scott Brechtel

— — Notable:

New owner has banned smoking and is trying to — attract a new eat-in donut clientele. — — I need customers who are gonna buy a heckuva lot more doughnuts than some guy who wants to sit and have a smoke and nurse a cup of coffee, says Brechtel. Who wants to buy doughnuts when some guy's puffing away?

Brechtel bought the doughnut shop at 1173 Court St. a year ago, taking the scary plunge into the fingers-to-the-bone world of small-business ownership.

A professional baker since age 16, the 35-year-old Portland native spotted Donut Haven for sale in a trade publication. At the time, he was in sales for a bakery supplier.

I wanted out of the rain, and this seemed like a good opportunity, he says. It wasn't perfect, but the money was right and the place had a lot of square-footage.

Brechtel soon found out how imperfect it was.

Although Donut Haven was the only all-night shop in town, the business had earned a reputation over the years as a smoke-filled dive where Greyhound bus drivers stopped for a stretch and a free cup of coffee.

The drivers brought in paying customers, but the main reason were coming in was because — could smoke and use the facilities, Brechtel says. It was like an old truck stop.

Medford only has two other doughnut shops: Donut Den (formerly Winchell's) in the Bear Creek Plaza, and Donut Country, located on East Jackson Street. Neither business looks or feels like a truck stop.

To cope, Brechtel has concentrated on wholesale. Mixing 10 to 12 gallons of doughnut dough a day, Donut Haven sells to schools (Southern Oregon University is one of his best clients) and convenience stores, such as the Minute Market chain.

But wholesale is less profitable than by-the-doughnut retail. Hoping to stimulate more off-the-street business, Brechtel banned smoking and began closing up the shop at 8 p.m.

In addition, he upgraded the counter space to make the service area more friendly. His employees are expected to be courteous and helpful.

I was paranoid, because the old owners made me think that if I made all these big changes that I'd be out of business, he says. But after running it for a year, I realized I could do it. Now I feel really confident about it.

Seeking a more upscale clientele, Brechtel also has added more baked goods to the lineup. He started a line of specialty breads and bakes Danish pastries Friday through Sunday.

And he is starting to advertise, with a television commercial planned for filming last Friday.

Although the cutback in hours has cost him some late-night business, Brechtel says he hopes to offset the loss by making the freshest doughnuts in town.

Cutting out the night business has been kind of a bite, he says, but I think it's gonna pay off in the long run.

they - Photo by Bob Pennell