New doughnut shop owners won’t let pandemic stop them from inspiring others

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — For the Cooper family, making doughnuts is a labor of love.

“Our doughnuts are freshly made every day. They’re hand-rolled, hand-cut, each one,” said David Cooper.

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The path leading to the family’s newfound passion wasn’t an easy one.

“It’s the worst time in history, probably, to open a business,” David Cooper said.

He set out to open Down for Doughnuts on East Iredell Avenue in Mooresville after retiring from working in the banking industry for years. His 30-year-old son, Zach, who has Down syndrome, first sparked the idea, hence the name.

“He wanted to work,” David Cooper said. “We searched high and low, and it was hard trying to find a place that would give him a job.”

“When Zach decided he wanted a doughnut shop, I was all in,” said Lisa Cooper, Zach’s mother.

The Coopers planned to open in December, researching and practicing recipes. An onslaught of failed inspections, from plumbing to electrical issues in the 68-year-old building that houses the shop, delayed their plan even longer.

They finally got the green light in March.

“We actually had our lobby open for one week before the COVID lockdown went into place,” David Cooper said.

Still, they were committed to their cause, which is creating a space for people like Zach.

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“We wanted to make sure it was a business where we could employ other individuals with disabilities,” said Lisa Cooper.

More than half of their 11-member staff have some type of intellectual disability. The Coopers are planning to hire even more as soon as things settle down with the pandemic.

It’s a high they can’t come down from, selling nearly 200 dozen doughnuts a day. And it’s a dream come true for Zach.

“My favorite part is making doughnuts,” he said.