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Down For Doughnuts | Mooresville doughnut shop employs people with intellectual disabilities

David Cooper, a career banker, knew nothing about doughnuts before opening this shop for his son who has Down syndrome.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — David Cooper and his wife Lisa opened their doughnut shop for their son Zach in March 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Down For Doughnuts, a walk-up doughnut shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, hires individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. Right now, they have ten employees on the payroll.

"We make great doughnuts and we have a lot of fun," Cooper said.

The doughnut shop's idea is all thanks to Cooper's son, Zach, who has Down syndrome. Cooper asked him what business he wanted to open and Zach said doughnuts. 

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Cooper said as a career banker, he knew nothing about doughnuts but started researching and learning all he could. 

"It was his idea," Cooper said looking at his son Zach. "So that's why he's here with us every day."

Cooper said his doughnuts are made fresh every day. They are hand-rolled, hand-cut and hand-frosted. 

Credit: Down For Doughnuts

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"You just can't beat a freshly made doughnut every day," Cooper exclaimed. "We use top ingredients and we just love our customers." 

Cooper said the pandemic and other issues like the building and permits, meant their original date to open the store got pushed back from December to March. 

"When we opened on Friday, it was March, 21, World Down syndrome day," Cooper said. "It was a coincidence, but a happy coincidence." 

In order to adapt to the pandemic, Down for Doughnuts opened up as a walk-up-only doughnut shop. 

"We opened Friday and we went into full lockdown the middle of the next week," Cooper said. "So we had to quickly adapt." 

Along with the pickup window, Cooper tried other creative things like individually wrapping doughnuts.

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"It worked really well because I think comfort food got a lot of people through the pandemic," Cooper said. 

Cooper said he's excited about what the future holds and said to look out for new concepts in 2023. 

"We're going to start doing a gluten-free line," Cooper said. "So we're going to introduce some really cool things this year." 

Down For Doughnuts also partners with Haerfest Coffee Roasting Co. for those looking for a cup of joe with their sweet treat. Cooper said he chose them because their values are similar as they also employ individuals with disabilities.

Click here for Down For Doughnut's full menu and to meet its employees.


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