A Halifax homeless shelter received some less-than-sweet news last week after a nearby doughnut shop closed its doors for good.

"This is our first week without Robin's Donuts here at Souls Harbour Rescue Mission," said Michelle Porter, founder of the Cunard Street shelter. 

Last week, patrons of Robin's Donuts at 6041 North St. walked up to its doors to find them locked. Inside, the store was dark and vacant.

Michelle Porter

Michelle Porter, founder of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, says the loss of the doughnuts donation comes at time when food costs and visitation are both high. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

Every day for the last several years, that Robin's Donuts provided Souls Harbour Mission with enough doughnuts for 75 to 145 people, Porter says, for the sake of giving them "a little something with their tea." 

Porter says Robin's Donuts baked doughnuts in large batches that produced a significant quantity of leftovers. 

And then they were gone

News of the closure came as a surprise to Porter. The store was threatened with closure a few months ago, but that was averted at the last minute.

"They said, 'Actually, we're staying open, we have a new buyer, they're keeping us on board.' That was exciting," Porter recalled. "But then just last week, they said, 'This will be your last pickup.'"

Porter isn't the only one taken aback. Jim Dikaios, the co-owner of Java Blend, said their two stores have been neighbours for as long as he can remember. He had no idea the store was donating so much. 

"It's a surprise to me," he said, adding their clientele was different enough that "it was almost like we were in a different industries."

Some parents would take their kids to Robin's Donuts first to get a donut before coming to sit down in Java Blend— something Dikaios never had a problem with. 

"We were neighbours. We got along. Never had any issues," he said.

A hole where doughnuts used to be

Chairman's Brands, the parent company to Robin's Donuts, could not be reached for an interview. 

"People are definitely missing their doughnuts. They were a very favourite treat," Porter said. 

"It does come at a very bad time when our grocery budget went up at least $6,000 this year. Our clientele went up 33 per cent."

The mission has had to improvise this past week, Porter said, which required spending money on desserts they wouldn't normally have budgeted.

"We went to the dollar store to buy cookies," she said. "It's a bit of a hardship and we're just scrambling, figuring out things."

Souls Harbour Rescue Mission posted a request for dessert donations Feb. 29 on its Facebook page.