Charles “Buff” and Julia Vaughan don’t yet know the specific opening date for their Duck Donuts in Rehoboth Beach, but they do know people are excited the popular Outer Banks donut shop is coming.
Every day, people stop by to see when it’s going to be done, said Buff during a recent interview.
Married for 28 years, the Vaughans’ journey to Rehoboth Beach was unexpected. Both recently retired from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where Buff was head of props for the opera house and Julia was a stagehand. On a trip to Charlotte, N.C., the couple, familiar with the Duck Donuts brand because they used to own a house in the Outer Banks, noticed a franchise. They inquired about opening a shop, and they were given Rehoboth as an option. Despite not knowing the area at all, it was a something they didn’t want to pass up.
It was a whirlwind, but it was an opportunity near the beach, said Julia, adding that the same day they found the retail space in Rehoboth, they found a house in Milton, too.
The secret to Duck Donuts is in the donut, and Julia has been trained at corporate headquarters on how to make them. Hesitant to say too much, she said it’s a vanilla cake donut that’s crispy on the outside, but not heavy on the inside.
“They’re yummy, warm and delicious,” added Buff.
Part of the Duck Donuts philosophy is that each donut is custom made to order.
“We’re not allowed to make donuts until a person walks through the door,” said Julia.
The donut shop is on the ground level of the Avenue Inn. The inn underwent a major expansion roughly five years ago, but a lot of work was still needed to get the space ready. Buff said the HVAC system got a significant upgrade to accommodate the two donut fryers. He explained the system needs to keep customers and employees cool, and also not exhaust the hot air onto the inn’s guests above. It needs to be a self-contained system, he said.
“Yes, that means the shop will smell like donuts as soon as a person walks in,” said Julia.
In addition to the necessary upgrades, the space is roughly half the size of a typical franchise location. Buff said to get the new fryers into the space, the front door and the decorative window above had to be removed and then reinstalled. Another size-related hassle, he said, is that only one contractor can fit into the space at a time.
It’s nothing that can’t be overcome, said Buff.
The Vaughans already have their sights set on expanding the location – they’ve signed a lease on the shop immediately next door, which is where they’ll have seating.
They had planned on opening much sooner, but COVID hit, and there were delays in getting parts and the necessary permits. The Vaughans are now shooting for the shop to be open by the end of November; definitely by the end of the year, said Buff.
When it does open, Julia said the shop will be open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., seven days a week through the winter. Weekend hours will expand when spring comes around, she said.
For more information on Duck Donuts, 33 Wilmington Ave., call 302-727-5315 or go to duckdonuts.com and look for Rehoboth Beach.