‘Donut Drama’ Escalates as Both Ma’s Donuts Speak Out
The saga of Ma's Donuts continues to escalate, as owners of both the New Bedford Ma's Donuts and Coffee Shop and the Middletown, Rhode Island Ma's Donuts and More stated their respective cases on-air this morning on Fun 107.
To briefly recap on what has transpired over the past 24 hours, the original Ma's Donuts in New Bedford is being asked to change its name after 66 years with a cease-and-desist letter from Middletown's Ma's Donuts and More.
The internet blew up and Ma's New Bedford followers are outraged and personally, I am too. Ma's in New Bedford has been a staple for years and with the news of its reopening in 2021 was a bombshell that nobody saw coming after it had been closed for nearly five years.
Happy news turned into complicated stress for both the New Bedford and Middletown locations. Confusion between the two has brought complications to the Middletown location, which was also shut down for a time due to COVID-19, but decided to re-open again shortly after the New Bedford Ma's made it known it was making a comeback.
In the time since the New Bedford Ma's closed down, the Middletown location federally trademarked the "Ma's Donuts" name, and now says New Bedford's shop can't operate as Ma's Donuts and Coffee Shops.
A quick timeline: Ma's Donuts in New Bedford opened under that name in 1955. The Middletown Ma's Donuts and More opened in 1993. The current owners of the Middletown Ma's purchased it six months after it opened, and it already had the name Ma's Donuts and More at that time. The two businesses co-existed with similar names for decades. When the New Bedford Ma's Donuts closed down in 2016, the Rhode Island shop filed for a federal trademark on "Ma's Donuts," and now that the New Bedford location is re-opening, they've issued a cease-and-desist letter warning them they cannot use the name.
Still following? It's about to escalate further.
On Thursday, New Bedford's Ma's owners posted on Facebook that the business must change its name immediately. Michael and Maddie welcomed the owners of each Ma's to tell their story as they each see it. Valdemar Leite of Middletown and Scott Lemieux of New Bedford were both granted an "open floor" to discuss the current situation that's been brewing (see what I did there?) between the two local donut shops.
Indeed, Alex Leite over in Middletown said it best with the phrase "donut drama."
The Leites argue that when the New Bedford location closed in 2016, that meant they were no longer using the name "Ma's Donuts," while the Lemieux argument is that the family was trying to sell the business during that time, complete with the business name "Ma's Donuts."
The bottom line is, either way, it's not going to affect the business for either place. New Bedford locals aren't driving down to Middletown and Middletown folk aren't driving to New Bedford for donuts. If there's any conclusion to this that involves a happy ending, it's Ma's Donuts in New Bedford being able to keep its name and both peacefully coexisting as they had for years before. Don't ask me about what changed, because I honestly couldn't tell you after the conversation we had with the Middletown owners.
For now, I'm just anxiously looking forward to the re-opening of the "original" Ma's in New Bedford. As for the name, I'm sure we'll soon find out what they have decided upon for a new moniker.