Getting Emily’s Donuts and Café up and running has been an adventure, but one that has become much sweeter in the last few days.
Commuters driving past the Merrimac Trail location might have noticed the major building project, from open beams in November to the finished façade and new sign that now greets visitors.
The locally owned restaurant opened its doors to patrons Saturday. It will be open 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.
Emily’s Donuts and Café is named after owner Jim Yates’ daughter. Yates is a Virginia native who has lived the last 25 years in Williamsburg.
After many years in the fire equipment business, he decided to turn his love of baking into an eating establishment.
Yates does some of the baking at the café, which offers 35 varieties rotated throughout the day. All doughnuts are homemade and fresh each morning.
Unlike the recently opened Duck Donuts, which carries cake doughnuts, Emily’s Donuts and Café has mostly yeast-based doughnuts. These products rise with yeast — not baking powder or soda — and are then fried for a lighter bite.
Doughnuts are new to lead baker J. D. Bell, but he said the dough is similar to what he worked with in a previous job.
Bell is one of about 12 staff members at the store, which has seating for 12.
Doughnuts sell for $1.20 or $1.50, depending on filling, with a dozen available for $12.75.
A longtime baker in private, Yates said he loves making rum cakes and pound cakes. In addition to doughnuts, his restaurant will offer other baked goods and pies, with a pecan variety currently for sale.
Emily’s Donuts and Café also offers six varieties of coffee plus specialty beverages by Baltimore Coffee. Yates takes pride in that array of products.
“We’re going to compete with Starbucks,” he said.
So far, Yates said business has been good, and Bell agreed.
“We’ve sold out our last two days,” he said on Monday, the third day the store was open.
Yates believes the location of Emily’s Donuts and Café will attract customers, and the delicious treats will keep them coming back for more.
He described Williamsburg as a “bedroom community”—one where many residents travel out of the area for work. Workers traveling south and looking to avoid I-64 will drive right past the café on Route 143.
Bakeries and similar restaurants are successful based on quality products and word of mouth, Yates said. As long as Emily’s Donuts and Café is consistent in its products, “business will take care of itself.”
A grand opening is planned in the next few weeks.