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Jenna Kennan, left, and Via Reyes operate their businesses Vegabun and Mellow Dough side-by-side at the Downtown Charlottetown Farmers’ Market.
Jenna Keenan, left, and Via Reyes operate their businesses Vegabun and Mellow Dough side-by-side at the Downtown Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. - Contributed

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - When Via Reyes came to P.E.I. from the Philippines, selling gourmet donuts wasn’t in her plans.

In fact, Reyes didn’t come to the Island to start a business at all. She came to complete her English degree at UPEI, which she did in 2016.

Reyes loves doughnuts. When she got to Prince Edward Island she said the doughnut options were limited after growing up on Krispy Crème and Dunkin’ Donuts.

“I know those are chain restaurants, but oh my gosh those donuts are good,” Reyes said.

She wanted something that would replicate those yeast-risen, fluffy, chewy, brioche doughnuts.

When she began talking about opening a doughnut store it started off as a joke.

But Reyes said she couldn’t shut up about it.

“I would tell people, ‘This is how my doughnut shop is going to look’.”

Most of her friends brushed off her doughnut fantasy, except for her friend Jenna Keenan.

“She was the one who really put into my head this is a feasible thing.”

That’s how Reyes and Keenan began developing businesses side-by-side, under the same roof. Reyes started Mellow Dough, specializing in yeast-risen customizable doughnuts, while Keenan started Vegabun making vegan cinnamon buns.

Some fresh doughnuts on offer from Mellow Dough.
Some fresh doughnuts on offer from Mellow Dough.

Reyes said the real reason she stated Mellow Dough was to satisfy a big craving.

“The whole reason I decided to make doughnuts anyway is because they are my favorite food in the world and, growing up in cities where doughnuts were easily accessible, I’ve always had them around.”

Keenan and Reyes both brought their significant others into their operations.

Keenan’s husband and business partner in Vegabun, Mitch Malboeuf , said the couple made their way from Ottawa to P.E.I. and the idea for the business grew organically.

“It was a combination of two things. Jenna has a love for baking and a background in confection arts and she wanted to offer a treat to people who are vegan,” said Malboeuf.

Though he wasn’t sure there would be a market for vegan cinnamon buns in P.E.I., when Keenan posted about the products in a vegan group chat it was evident the demand was there.

While both are small-batch operations right now, Vegabun and Mellow Dough are always looking for way to expand.

Reyes doesn’t have a culinary background — she does promotions for UPEI and student engagement through social media. She uses her skills in photography and social media to promote her business with eye-catching images of icing-glazed confections.

Keenan and Reyes offer their treats at the Downtown Charlottetown Farmers’ Market.

“We share the same roof,” Reyes said. “Our doughnuts are made in very small batches. We don’t use any heavy machinery, other than our little KitchenAid mixer and a Hamilton Beach deep fryer that does six doughnuts at a time.”

The process can take more than 12 hours.

While Keenan’s cinnamon buns appeal to the vegan market, Reyes wants to offer doughnuts to the same clientele. She has vegan and gluten-free dough rising.

“We want to be able to feed everyone,” said Reyes.

In addition to the farmers’ market, both businesses are taking some custom orders when approached.

To keep up with Mellow Dough and Vegabun, follow them on Instagram @mellowdough and @vegabunpei.

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