New Albany • For the past couple of years, Britt and Jesse Leslie have made doughnuts.
A lot of doughnuts.
But it’s for very good reason – they’re opening a Scarlet’s Donuts shop in New Albany on Feb. 3.
And Scarlet Wilson, whose name adorns the popular doughnut stores in Tupelo and the first location outside the All-America City, thinks the Leslies will do well.
“I always thought New Albany would be a good location for a Scarlet’s,” she said. “They’ve got a really good work ethic. They’re a sweet young couple. We were young when we started, and sometimes you have to give somebody a chance to run with it. It’s what my parents did with us.”
Wilson’s father helped bring Shipley’s Donuts to Mississippi in the 1950s, and members of the family opened Shipley’s across the state. Wilson and some of her siblings broke with the company several years ago to have their own brand.
It’s turned out to be a good move for Wilson, and even better for the Leslies, who met Scarlet and her husband, David, two years ago.
“It was back in 2014, and they were on a cruise along with some friends and family of ours,” Britt said.
The conversation eventually made its way to business, and the Leslies were introduced to the doughnut world.
“I was driving a truck and looking to open my own trucking business, and David asked if I ever thought about opening a doughnut shop,” Britt said. “I said ‘no.’ Honestly, who really thinks about that? But I told him I’d talk to them about it and I’d talk to her (Jesse) about it.”
As it turns out, both love to cook, both love to talk, both love to talk to people – all necessary ingredients to run a successful doughnut shop.
“Rolling and cooking are the funnest part,” Jesse said of making doughnuts. Britt likes the talking part.
They even like getting up at around 3 every morning.
“And we enjoy doing something together,” Britt said.
The couple went all in to pursue their dream, selling their house to help finance the opening of the business.
Scarlett Wilson said she knew they had picked the right franchisees.
“Every time we got together we talked about their opening a store,”she said. “The question was to make sure this is what they wanted to do. I always knew they’d do a good job. They sold their house to get it going; they’ve done a lot. It’s a very big commitment, and I’m more than confident they’ll do well. I know the response so far from the community is amazing.”
The Leslies will sport the same menu that other Scarlet’s have, which includes glazed doughnuts and iced doughnuts, jelly- and pudding-filled doughnuts, and dough rolls baked and filled with sausage, ham, chicken, cheese and eggs.
Cinnamon items such as butterfly rolls, bear claws, cinnamon twists, cinnamon rolls and apple fritters will be available as well.
Fresh Delta-made hot tamales also will be available by the half dozen or dozen.
A lot of praying
The Leslies said they weren’t confident that they would get the loan needed to open Scarlet’s.
“We did a lot of praying,” Jesse said. “He just lined it up for us.”
The way Britt saw it, “If the Lord didn’t want us to have it, then it just wasn’t meant to be. But we got it.”
Now comes the harder part: Getting everything in place for the opening. Training continues not only for them but their employees.
“We started training, off and on, almost two years ago,” Jesse said. “At first they wanted us to see what it involved to make sure we knew what we were getting into.”
It was a challenge of sorts to prove they knew what they wanted and knew how to run the business that demanded consistency on a daily basis. After all, nobody wants a doughnut that looks and tastes different from one day to the next.
“Everybody thinks doughnut making is easy, but it’s not,” Britt said. “Honestly, when I first came here I had no idea how to make a doughnut. I’m still learning every day. But you have to give the best you can every day.”
Jesse quit the full-time job Oct. 31 she had held since 2006 to fully devote herself to helping run Scarlet’s.
“I’ve loved it and I’ve learned a lot,” she said of joining the Scarlet’s brand.
The New Albany store is some 1,400 square feet with limited seating. A drive-through also will be available.
Scarlet’s Donuts is located at 805 E. Bankhead St., and will be open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“This is going to be fun,” Britt said. “We’re ready to get started.”
The New Albany Gazette contributed to this story.