Takeaway Donuts owner Raj Jain recently announced he aims to be back operating his popular Boutte area donut shop sometime between late summer and early fall 2024.
“I’m looking forward to [reopening], because I miss all of my customers,” Jain said. “To me, seeing my customers each day is like seeing my family everyday – I miss all of them.”
Both his business’ sign and the roof of Jain’s previously leased building at 13441 US-90 in Boutte were damaged in 2021 after Hurricane Ida struck. The hole created in the building’s roof seemed to be small at first, but the water that leaked inside afterwards created a much bigger problem.
“Ida punched a very minor hole in the roof, but it brought with it a bunch of water,” Jain explained. “The power was out for about three to four weeks, and we were not able to quickly come in and clean the building – so the water inside the building just accumulated and began to develop mold and mildew.”
The roof and interior of his building eventually would need to be stripped bare given the severity of the resulting water damage. Takeaway Donuts’ building now sits along Highway 90 with an open roof and four bare walls, patiently waiting for contractors to restore it to working order once again.
In the first 18 months following the storm, it seemed Jain’s business might not reopen. As a tenant in the building, his insurance proceeds were minimal, and his longtime landlord – whom he had made several attempts to purchase his business’ building from over the years – delayed repairing or selling while she waited on the outcome of delayed insurance proceeds. His landlord later opted to sell the building to local investor Mike Nabut.
In June of this year Nabut, who was friends with the Jain family, agreed to sell Jain his purchase agreement, which allowed Jain to finally purchase the Highway 90 location he had long sought to own for decades.
With the building finally his and two years following Hurricane Ida now in his rearview mirror, Jain quickly began navigating some of the same painstaking storm recovery issues this fall many other locals before him had already faced. Construction, building codes, engineering, financial matters, permitting and other complications all needed to be addressed in order to get his business back up and running, moving parts that have begun to slowly pick up pace.
The local businessman said he has just a few final issues to address before he can put his restoration project out to bid with local general contractors.
Jain first purchased Takeaway Donuts around 1985, an opportunity he stumbled upon via a local classified advertisement. By then, the business had already been operating on Highway 90 for six or seven years with its prior owner.
“Hard work and persistence paid off,” Jain said, who had worked in the hospitality industry in his native India before first immigrating to the United States in the early 1980s. “The community loved me…people realized – this guy’s got a better product, a better attitude and better people working for him.”
With loyal employees in his employ, sales continued to improve throughout the 1990s. Jain later introduced his own donut shop version of the Mardi Gras king cake around 2000 – which quickly became a hit with locals.
“Since 2000, every Mardi Gras season we would sell out of king cakes; we just could not keep up with demand,” Jain mentioned.