Touted as a third location of the regionally popular Mary’s Donuts, a new storefront opened on El Cajon’s Main Street on April 13, near city and county offices. Owner Joel Scalzitti proclaimed in the East County Californian, of his new donut and deli shop, “I want people to feel like they’re coming into their home.”
Scalzitti’s new “home,” named Main Street Donuts and Deli, may soon be a place of harsh words and legal haggling. The restaurant claims on signage “A Division of Mary’s Donuts, Inc.” and news reports claimed it to be directly affiliated with Santee’s original Mary’s Donuts. The store’s type style on its Main Street sign is the same style as the Santee Mary’s Donuts sign.
“The El Cajon shop is not a third Mary’s,” said an employee of Mary’s Donuts.
In 2017, Scalzitti, a long time customer of the Mary’s in Santee, asked if he could open a location in Lakeside, under the same name. Known for her community generosity and welcoming style, owner Mary Hennessy said okay, thinking she was helping out a longtime good customer.
“Lakeside is not related to us,” said the Santee Mary’s employee. “We get complaints about them all the time,” she said. “People tell us it’s not the same. We have to apologize saying they’re not related to us.”
County and state public records show the Santee and Lakeside locations are separately owned and operated. Mary’s Donuts, Inc., owned by the Scalzitti family, operates the Lakeside shop, and now El Cajon.
The real Mary – Mary Hennessy, is 90 years old. “She shows up every morning at 4:30 to give us encouragement, and whip us into shape,” the employee said with a smile. Hennessy is getting ready to turn over the original Santee Mary’s operation to her 24-year-old granddaughter, Kelly Hennessy, who is the store’s manager.
Mary Hennessy opened the original Mary’s Donuts and Coffee in 1984, on Mission Gorge Road. Due to a dispute with the landlord in 2016, Hennessy was forced to move her 24-hour operation a few blocks east to a strip mall on Carlton Hills Boulevard. A late night visit on April 24, waiting in line, showed the location is as popular as ever.
Scalzitti recently ran, unsuccessfully, for mayor of El Cajon and sits on the board of directors for the Helix Water District and the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce. He was not available for comment.