Plaza Donuts for Sale, Owners Ready to Retire
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Howard Froomkin says he isn’t sure when he and his cousin, Michael Froomkin, took over Plaza Donuts from their fathers. They just inherited it.
“It’s been a type of thing where we didn’t really take it over,” Froomkin says. “We’ve always been a part of it.”
Now 67 – and Michael, 64 – Froomkin says he and his cousin are ready to retire. And with nobody in their families wanting to take over the business, the doughnut shop that’s operated at 3437 Belmont Ave. since 1963 is up for sale, along with satellite locations in Boardman, at 712 Boardman-Canfield Road, and inside the WRTA building downtown.
Howard, the company’s secretary/treasurer, and Michael, its president, are second-generation owners of the business, taking things over from their fathers, Irving and Berkeley, respectively. The elder Froomkins opened the first Plaza Donuts shop in Akron in 1962, but “it just wasn’t doing well there,” Howard Froomkin recalls.
Since opening the Belmont Avenue location and the two satellites, business has been good, he says. He likens the atmosphere to the diner counters at the former McKelvey’s and Woolworth’s department stores.
“You sit down, have a cup of coffee, eat a doughnut and scratch a lottery ticket,” he says.
Lottery plays a big role at all three Plaza Donuts locations, but is strongest at the Belmont location, Froomkin says. That and a steady flow of customers dining in or carrying out has helped Plaza Donuts endure through the years, despite a changing economy and loss of industry — a point of pride for Froomkin’s father and uncle.
“When they retired, they still stayed here and worked just for the heck of it because they liked to be around the business,” Froomkin says.
And it’s hard work, he notes. When he and Michael first took over the business, it was common for them to work seven days a week, 20 hours a day. Plaza currently employs 30 full- and part-time employees, including drivers, bakers and sales staff.
Doughnuts are baked fresh daily the same way his father and uncle made them and delivered to the satellite locations as well as to commercial customers such as St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, Pilot Flying J travel centers and Sami Quick Stop. The shop downtown is open 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except Sunday, and Boardman is open 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“When you’re baking, you’re still open,” Froomkin says. “You’re in the backroom and your truck’s on the road at night. It takes a lot out of you.”
The Froomkins are willing to train anyone who wants to get into the doughnut and coffee business while preserving a Youngstown icon. The sale’s broker, Alan Friedkin, owner of Friedkin Realty in Youngstown, says it presents a good opportunity for an interested buyer.
“For someone who wants to be entrepreneurial, it’s a great business,” Friedkin says. “It’s not a difficult business to understand for someone who can put in the work and do the marketing.”
With the increased presence and popularity of specialty coffee shops in the region, a buyer would have “a great opportunity to come in and reinvent Plaza Donuts,” which sells regular coffee. Other beneficial updates could include WiFi connectivity at the locations and a website to “bring it a little bit more into today’s culture.
“It’s a lot easier to take an existing business that’s doing numbers and build it up a little better,” he says.
Friedkin did not disclose asking price, but said the Froomkins are willing to be flexible. They own the building on Belmont Avenue and are willing to sell it outright or sell the business and lease the building, “so there’s some options there.” The sale would include all of the business’ equipment and delivery vehicles.
Plus, there’s the name recognition, he says. Friedkin recalls his own Plaza Donuts experience.
“I grew up on these doughnuts and so did most of the people of my generation in the area,” he says.
“It’s been around 55 years and it would be a shame for that business to close. If someone can take this to the next level, they can do a tremendous amount of business and keep Plaza Donuts in the Valley.”
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.