An interview with a couple that’s making Lewisburg a tastier place to live.
Debbie Porter and Arthur Forgette met in Miami, Florida, but were living in Annapolis, Maryland, when she made the drive to Greenbrier County to visit some family members. Porter’s parents had grown up in West Virginia, and she often vacationed in the state when her children were young.
“She came back to Annapolis and said, ‘I think we should open a restaurant in Lewisburg,’” Forgette says. “I said, ‘I think you’re crazy.’ But God has a way of opening doors and putting you in places where he wants you to be.”
The couple opened The French Goat in August 2015, and the French-style bistro has quickly become a favorite hangout for the area’s gourmet set. In July 2017, Porter and Forgette opened Maison Marcel, an elegant bed and breakfast decorated by renowned interior designer Carlton Varney.
Then, in August 2018, the couple launched their latest venture—Retro Donuts and More, a breakfast and lunch cafe with an ever-changing menu of gourmet pastries.
Porter and Forgette sat down with WV Living to talk about the inspiration behind their donut shop and why they’ve made Lewisburg their forever home.
ARTHUR FORGETTE: Donuts are one of the hottest sectors in the food business these days.
DEBBIE PORTER: They’re the new cupcakes.
AF: We knew we didn’t have anything like it here. There’s not a lot of breakfast options in town—there was no local place that was easy to get to. This place has parking. It’s on the busiest street in town.
I grew up during the ‘60s with all the oldies music—The Beatles and all the Motown music—so I said, “It’d be fun if we could put together a throwback diner.” Debbie started working on that concept.
DP: We wanted someplace bright and happy where you can come with your kids. We wanted a place where everyone can be comfortable. There’s a community table if you want to sit with people. There are booths and there are single places if you want to come in and read your paper and not be bothered.
AF: Older people like it because they like that kind of music. You don’t hear it much anymore. Kids like it because you’ve got the donuts. We’ve received really positive feedback about the space and the whole concept. People have been coming back a lot.
DP: We did 7,000 donuts the first week. We have the sous chef, he makes donuts from midnight to 5 a.m. You can put just about anything on a donut these days. Hence the Cap’n Crunch donuts. I want the classics, but it’s amazing to be able to say “We have Oreo double cream today.”
AF: There’s an energy in town here that makes you want to continue. We’ve been overwhelmed by how friendly and welcoming everyone’s been in this community. That’s what’s given us confidence to stay here.
DP: For such a small town, there’s so much culture. It just checked a lot of boxes.