Ten months after Vandal Doughnuts closed its doors on Gottingen Street, the popular north end Halifax haunt is back as of this weekend. Gone instead? Fellow Gottingen bakery Fortune Doughnut. On Sunday, Aug. 27, Fortune shared on its Instagram that it would be closing for renovations. The reason, it revealed Tuesday, is that it had “joined forces” with Vandal Doughnuts and would be reopening under the latter’s banner as of Saturday, Sept. 2.
Both businesses underwent changes of ownership in early August, The Coast has learned. Per Nova Scotia’s Registry of Joint Stock Companies, the two entered an amalgamation agreement on Aug. 10. Behind the helm of the newly-revamped Vandal are Kent Scales and Zoey Boosey, the duo behind Sea Smoke Restaurant & Bar on Halifax’s waterfront. The two are also partners in a yet-to-open Asian fusion restaurant called ASIA that will occupy part of the ground floor in the still-under-construction Cunard residences. It’s forecast to open in spring 2024. Scales also owns an array of restaurants in PEI, including Claddagh Oyster House and Olde Dublin Pub in Charlottetown.
Reopening marks new chapter for Vandal after “soul searching” in 2022
The revival of Vandal is sugary-sweet news for fans of the donut shop once known for its Simpsons-inspired donuts and over-the-top creations. First launched out of Gus’ Pub in 2017, its doors had been closed since last October. Then-owner Jens Heidenreich told The Coast that he was “going through a bit of a soul searching phase” with what to do with the shop amid staff shortages.
“We’ve had people leave because they were being paid higher wages elsewhere than we could justify in the current market environment,” he told The Coast at the time. “And we haven’t been able to recruit anybody with a skillset that’s required.”
Halifax’s food service industry underwent criticism last fall amid reports of long hours and low wages. (“The kitchen work [in Halifax] is plenty, but the money is awful, awful, awful,” chef Harpreet Jagdeo told The Coast earlier in October.)
Per a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report last September, a worker would need to earn $23.50 per hour for a living wage in Halifax—a far cry from the province’s minimum wage, which Heidenreich says new front-of-house hires were earning. Heidenreich told The Coast he’s “quite sympathetic” to the discussion of a living wage, but he added there’s “a large degree of naivety” around how a small business would make ends meet.
“If you go to a company like Tim Hortons, or if you go to a company like McDonald's, they're obviously much larger corporations with entirely different profit margins than a tiny little hole-in-the-wall donut shop,” he said.
It isn’t clear what new ownership means for the team at Fortune, and whether it will be hiring for new roles—nor is it clear yet what will become of the old Vandal location at 2306 Gottingen Street, or which donut recipes will survive the merger. The Coast has reached out to the donut shop’s new owners, but has not received a reply as of publication.