The Times West Virginian

September 30, 2012

Donut Connection feeling energy, excitement

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

WHITE HALL — Donut Connection in White Hall is feeling the energy and excitement of people in the area.

Owners Shahram and Shana Shafii opened their store in the newly constructed Tygart Commons shopping plaza between Walmart and Tygart Valley Cinemas about two weeks ago.

Donut Connection joins several other businesses that have moved into the complex since January, and more shops are expected to join the plaza soon.

This weekend, Donut Connection has been holding a grand opening celebration, and customers can continue to take advantage of special offers and a doughnut sampling throughout today. As part of the festivities, staff members are creating their own doughnut flavors that people can vote on.

The store features a wide variety of doughnuts, including yeast, cake, white, chocolate, glazed, filled and specialty ones. Shahram and Shana said the cream-filled doughnuts are very popular. The menu also has an array of drinks, including coffee, iced coffee and cappuccinos.

But Donut Connection carries more than just doughnuts and coffee. Customers can enjoy pastries, bagels, English muffins and croissants, and breakfast sandwiches are served all day long. Plus, the Italian ice has been selling really well, especially in the evenings, the couple said.

Shahram and Shana plan to expand the shop’s offerings in the future in order to create more of a lunch-time crowd.

Donut Connection operates seven days a week, typically opening its doors by 7 a.m. and closing around 10 p.m. By mid-October, the owners hope to leave the drive-thru open during the late evening and early morning hours so the business is running 24 hours a day.

Shahram is originally from Charleston and Shana is a native of Williamsport, Pa. They are both alumni of Fairmont State University, where Shahram played football and Shana was a cheerleader. Now, Shahram is a football coach at FSU, and Shana coaches cheerleading there and also works as a nurse at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.

They now live in Morgantown, but love the Fairmont area and the people here and are looking into the possibility of moving back.

“It’s nice to be able to help this community because this community helped us so much while we were here,” Shahram said.

He and Shana run Donut Connection with the help of a staff of 17, which includes some cheerleaders and football players. Harold Summers, who grew up with Shahram, is the manager.

They would like to hire more employees, especially when Donut Connection goes to 24 hours.

Marion County has been lacking a doughnut shop for a while. Mister Donut, which is now known as Donut Connection, was located in Fairmont on Fairmont Avenue at one time, Shahram said.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” he said. “The market’s here. No matter where you go, there’s people that love doughnuts. We saw the void and found a great product and we’re now going to give it to the city.”

Shahram said he talked to a friend who owned a Donut Connection store in Charleston, which is how he learned about this franchise and how wonderful the products are. Shana added that some other Donut Connection owners have been very helpful to them in terms of answering questions and providing encouragement.

They said they have developed a great business relationship with Shaun Petracca, the developer of Tygart Commons, who has been amazing to work with and offered them plenty of guidance.

“People are so excited,” Shana said. “They’re so happy when they come here. I love it.”

Students often come to Donut Connection after school or at night after going to the movies or shopping. It provides a nice evening hang-out spot, and WiFi is available.

Shahram said Donut Connection is getting a lot of positive responses from people via Facebook, and telephone calls that are full of compliments.

“It’s just a new thing every day,” he said. “We love dealing with people. It’s a fun time.”

For more information, call Donut Connection at 681-404-5088, visit thedonutconnection.com, or find the store on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.