Arrested on a marijuana possession charge, Patrick Keelan saw he had two options: He could continue down his current path, or find a new direction.
That’s precisely when Keelan decided to begin selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts and bottled water from the side of Schillinger Road in West Mobile.
“It was about me trying to walk the path away from being a drug dealer,” Keelan said. “I knew I had to get away from it.”
It wasn’t easy in the beginning. Keelan said he was “banned” from various parts of the city before finding his spot at Schillinger Road. After more than seven years in the same location, picking up doughnuts and selling them to passing motorists, Keelan became affectionately known as the “Doughnut Man” and was a sort of local celebrity. His business expanded as well — he now makes sales stops in Saraland and other nearby municipalities.
However, it still isn’t all that easy for the Doughnut Man. Keelan said he was briefly stopped last week from buying the doughnuts he sells in bulk from the doughnut shop at Hillcrest Road and Airport Boulevard because the store became aware of his operation. He let his fans and customers know the bad news through a video on his Facebook page. However, Krispy Kreme told Lagniappe in an email Friday, May 15, Keelan would once again be allowed to sell his doughnuts the following day.
“The pause in his business regarded a local misunderstanding about paperwork,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “Now … it’s back to work for Doughnut Man!”
The company did not elaborate on the paperwork issue, but in a Facebook video to customers, Keelan said he was told he needed to establish a non-profit organization in order to resell the doughnuts. The “misunderstanding” has been worked out, according to the email.
Keelan said his regular customers were “happy to see me” when the sales resumed on Saturday, May 16.
“I heard a lot of horns blowing,” he said. “People liked to tell me they fought for me.”
Despite the good news about being able to sell again, Keelan said his sales were down over the weekend overall. He was unable to sell out and had to give boxes of doughnuts away. In part, he blames the notoriety from a blog post and the work of a fan, who set up a fundraiser for Keelan to help him purchase an ice cream truck to further his business pursuits.
Keelan declined the money raised from the online fundraising page and insisted he would get the truck and further expand his business when he was ready.
Keelan eventually wants to sell soft-serve ice cream and doughnuts from a truck, but isn’t quite ready to make that move. He wants to remain at his spot on Schillinger Road for a little while longer.
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