Mike Oliveira was a police officer for sixteen years. There was, as he says with considerable understatement, a lot of negativity that came with the job. Now he makes donuts for a living. That’s a job that brings a lot of smiles.
We first visited Mike and Steph Oliveira at their home in North Hampton, New Hampshire, in March of 2017. Just four months earlier, he made five or six donuts in his kitchen, the first donuts he’d ever made in his life. That little sideline turned into a business called Donut Love, which caught on immediately as the Oliveiras started selling their treats at farmers’ markets. The operation was so small—still confined to the family’s modest kitchen—that donuts could be produced just two at a time. “The last time we did the Newmarket farmers’ market we made 240 and it took me almost eighteen hours to make,” Mike recalls. “And we sold out in about four, five minutes.”
The message from customers was unmistakable, and in August of 2017 the Oliveiras opened a Donut Love shop on bustling Route 1 in North Hampton. The location, not coincidentally, is across the street from where Mike grew up. Customers poured in the door from day one. “When we opened that first month,” he says, “we had people camped out in lawn chairs that went around the whole building.”
It has been a dizzying but exhilarating ride for the Oliveiras. Through hard work and drive, they’ve turned a dream into reality and created the family-run bakery that Mike’s late mother had wanted to open. The guy who once made donuts two at a time for fun now owns and runs a business that turns out 6,000 a week. “It’s funny,” Mike says. “The other night Steph and I were driving around and drove by the store. And we still say to ourselves, we can’t believe that it’s ours.”
And now, the story gets even better. Oliveira plans to open another store in Exeter, New Hampshire. It's not that many miles from the kitchen where he first experimented with donuts, but it represents a long and enormously satisfying journey.