It took just one tweet about a “sad” dad to change the pace of a new doughnut shop in southeast Texas.
Billy’s Donuts had its grand opening on March 7 in Missouri City, Texas, according to its Facebook post with a pink cake doughnut covered in sprinkles. The city of about 67,000 people is 18 miles southwest of Houston.
But at about 2 p.m. on Saturday during opening weekend, the owner’s son posted a photo of his dad in the empty store.
“My dad is sad cause no one is coming to his new donut shop,” Billy By tweeted with the “loudly crying face emoji.”
He included photos of his dad behind a counter filled with doughnuts and kolaches and one of an empty parking the lot. The shop — with its “grand opening” banner — is nestled right in between an empty building (with a cafe coming soon) and a dental office.
The tweet about the store, which is named after Billy By, quickly went viral.
In less than 48 hours, the post was retweeted more than 256,000 times, and it received more than 546,000 likes.
By replied to his tweet about 7.5 hours later with the address and hours of Billy’s Donuts, along with a screenshot of its Instagram account. At the time, Billy’s Donuts had 71 followers. Billy’s Donuts has 55,000 Instagram followers as of Monday morning.
YouTube star Casey Neistat tweeted “OMW,” or on my way, on Saturday afternoon.
A couple hours later, even Twitter got in on it.
“You donut want to miss out on Billy’s and neither do we!” the official Twitter account tweeted. “We’ll be there tomorrow morning.”
Later that evening, actor James Woods quote-tweeted one of By’s tweets and asked people to “Help the guy out...”
And people didn’t just show up on social media.
Thousands of people replied to By, and many posted photos of them inside the store buying pastries. The shop was busy, and it even had a line.
News station KPRC went to Billy’s Donuts on Sunday morning, and it reported that “the store was slammed with customers buying sweets, soda and other items.”
By 12:30 p.m. Sunday, By posted that the shop sold out of doughnuts and kolaches for the day.
“You are all amazing,” By tweeted. “I can’t thank everyone enough for coming out and supporting local businesses. This means so much to my family.”
Several people have written reviews on the shop’s Facebook page.
“This new donut place is so good,” Cathy Anne wrote. “The owner is so friendly & has been in this business for 26 years. Yummy donuts & kolaches...a must try!”
“They are the best!!!” Linda Proctor-Parker wrote. “Been going to them since they opened in Pasadena! They are such a caring family. when my son had back surgery they were so supportive to my son and my family.”
This isn’t the first time a social media post has helped boost business.
Last month, Kelly’s Family Diner in Wichita, Kansas, went to Facebook with a photo of the empty restaurant.
“I just don’t understand it’s 12:00 on a Friday and this is what we have,” the diner posted. “I go down the street to another restaurant and there packed. We r clean and the food is really good. I just don’t what to do Can’t do it much longer.”
That post led to a “complete 180” for the diner, the Wichita Eagle reported.
“It’s unbelievably crazy,” Kelly Wilson told the Eagle. “I’m so freaking grateful for everyone in Wichita that came out.”