Bess Eaton or Bess Eaton Donut Flour Company Incorporated started as a bread and bakery products manufacturer and later as an operator of a small chain of coffee shops based in southern New England, often serving doughnuts, bagels, and muffins. The firm filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and liquidated its assets. However, in the spring of 2011, three stores reopened in Wakefield and Westerly, Rhode Island, and Pawcatuck, Connecticut. Additionally, there is a seasonal location in Galilee, Rhode Island and a new location opened in Groton, CT within the Bridge Market.
Bess Eaton was founded in 1953 by Angelo (Bangy) Gencarelli Jr. and was known for its coffee and hand-cut donuts. The corporate headquarters were located in Westerly, Rhode Island, with up to 56 retail shops spread between Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. At one time, it was Rhode Island's seventh largest private employer of 750 workers and 650 workers at the chain's sale. Throughout the chain's 50 year history, the company was privately held by the Gencarelli family. In the last year of operations, the firm was focusing on wholesale business and non-store locations to boost profits, but ultimately was sold to Tim Hortons of Canada. Leading up to the company's sale, then CEO, Louis A. Gencarelli, Sr., made headlines printing Biblical scripture verses on the company's cups and product packaging.
In its last decade of operation, the Bess Eaton Donut Flour Company faced many internal difficulties including problems with its financial records. As a result, the firm sold its retail division in mid-2004 following bankruptcy litigation. With a reported $35 million bid, the fast-food chain Wendy's International Corporation prevailed over the Dunkin' Donuts chain in their competition to purchase the 48 defunct Bess Eaton stores and other assets. Within two months of acquisition, Wendy's had converted 42 of those stores to their Tim Hortons brand. In conjunction with the sale, Bess Eaton closed its production facility and corporate headquarters. In 2008, Tim Hortons closed 15 former Bess Eaton locations, with the remainder closing in November 2010.
In November 2010, Tim Hortons closed the doors on all shops in Southern New England. In all, they closed 36 stores. In late January 2011, David Liguori registered a limited liability company under the name Bess Eaton Management LLC with the Rhode Island Secretary of State's Office. He has also registered the Bess Eaton trademark, previously owned by Tim Hortons, under his company name, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Four stores have reopened in Westerly and Wakefield, Rhode Island. Two stores in Pawcatuck and Groton, Connecticut have also been thriving. They plan to use all the original recipes for coffee and pastries.
- Louis A. Gencarelli Sr. - CEO 1982-2002; 2003–2004
- George Cioe - CEO 2002-2003
- Angelo Gencarelli Jr. - CEO and founder 1953–1982 (Member of the Westerly Hospital's Board of Trustees 1976-1982)
- Paul Gencarelli - CFO and son of Louis Gencarelli Sr.
- doughnut mix
- muffin mix
- croissant mix