, Gloucester, MA

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July 11, 2011

Daring and doughnuts: Immigrant goes from baker to business mogul

From a start as an immigrant baker in East Boston, Deo Braga has risen to one of Gloucester's leading business owners, with coffee shops, gas stations, a restaurant, real estate, commercial and personal holdings worth an estimated $20 million, with more on the whiteboard.

This year, as he celebrates his 50th birthday, his first grandchild, and his 30th year since leaving the Azores, the Portuguese islands, Braga could rest and enjoy his accomplishments.

No matter that he's robust, with a handsome head of dark, wavy hair, smiley blue eyes and an easy grin, Braga says he feels like time is going too fast since he hit the half-century mark. "There's no golf, no bowling. I work seven days a week."

"I still work the doughnuts," Braga said of the seven Dunkin Donut franchises he owns on Cape Ann. His wife, Paula, "is next door right now," in the coffee shop, he added, from his office on Washington Street near the railroad crossing. "She's a tough cookie. She loves working."

Braga plans to open an eighth Dunkin Donuts here within a year, not specifying location. Once his gas station at Washington and Prospect streets re-opens in August after renovations are completed, Braga said he will close the one on Washington and Railroad Avenue near the MBTA depot.

"Say goodbye to the ugly building and the red canopy," he said, and hello to a new extension of the Azorean Restaurent for small functions and private parties. "It will be beautiful," he promised.

"I was going to build a deli there, with Portuguese foods," he said, acknowledging scuttlebutt around town, "but a few days before I turned 50, I said to myself, do I need another headache? Do I want to start another business from scratch?

"No, I told myself. I want quality, good service. I don't want to be spread too thin," he said, defining the primal peril for entrepreneurs.

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