A HOLEY TRAGEDY? The hows and whys of Krispy Kreme’s eastside closing

My 63 year old sister, who hasn’t driven a car in over a decade and very likely hasn’t enjoyed a Krispy Kreme doughnut in longer than that was aghast.

“I’m devastated!”

Why?

“Krispy Kreme is closed!”

Sandy, you are ridiculous. You’ve only lived here 6 years. Did you ever even go to that store?

“No, but…”

I almost ended the conversation, but I let her continue.

“When Schwinn announced they were closing their bicycle operations, I got really sad. And I hadn’t ridden a bike in 20 years either.”

Fair enough. She salvaged the argument.

The announcement last week that Krispy Kreme Doughnuts were closing their Skidaway Road location in Savannah was met with a tsunami of tears across town. And I use the word “announcement” loosely. 

A printed sheet of paper essentially saying “we are done here. Go to Abercorn Street.” didn’t even give this community a chance for a final visit or a moment of silence to reflect on what this proclamation meant.

Nevermind that so many of us hadn’t been in that store in years. Many years. That is not the issue here. It is the fact that another Savannah fixture on the landscape is now gone. 

Likely to be torn down at some point. It has already been stripped of any branding on the building. Unless, of course, someone finds a creative way to turn it into a hotel.

That would kind of give a new meaning to “Hot and Now” huh? But I digress.

I was well aware of the fact that this store closing in Savannah was a big deal before we posted it to social media. What I truly didn’t expect was just how massive the emotional reaction would be. Absent an actual reason from Krispy Kreme corporate offices in Charlotte, North Carolina, the theories were flying 100 to nothing. Every smart guy and gal in Savannah absolutely knew the reason why.

“No one wants to work.” “They didn’t care and ran a business into the ground.” And of course my favorite reason: “Brandon Economics.”

We also learned that Abercorn at Largo is just short of Brunswick. No one interested in driving “all the way out there.”

I was even thanked by email by a reader for “covering this tragedy.”

The reality is Krispy Kreme, founded in 1937 in Winston Salem, North Carolina, is still extremely profitable. Everywhere. But, as the smart guys with the money like to do, they’ve been evaluating the most efficient way to grow their business going forward.

What they decided to do was expand their “Hub and Spoke” model. Which is to say, one store will make doughnuts and deliver them along their ‘spokes’ to other locations.

According to corporate, the stores without a significant number of spokes (like Skidaway Road) have been labeled “hot light theatres.” 

They may be popular and profitable, but they are essentially there for show. They don’t serve the greater good.

There are 118 such ‘hot light theatres’ in America and all of their days are pretty much numbered. Because they don’t have any spokes.

But, hey, let’s drag politics into this.

Ultimately, none of you really care about any of that. None of that will soften the blow of the fact that you used to go there every Saturday morning with your grandfather. 

The fact that the building had been there your entire life. The fact that another Savannah icon has gone the way of Williams Seafood and Johnny Harris.

Of course it hurts. Like a great song, foods and flavors evoke emotion on the regular. Especially this time of the year. Pardon me for a second while I reach into my bag of clichés.

Just remember, it’s better to have lost at love, than never to have loved at all.

Besides, in 1982, Krispy Kreme stopped being Savannah’s best doughnut anyway. 

That distinction has for 40 years now belonged to Baker’s Pride on Derenne Avenue. 

I stopped in over the weekend to rekindle my romance with these doughnuts and I was not disappointed. The line at the counter on a Saturday morning proved me right.

click to enlarge A HOLEY TRAGEDY? The hows and whys of Krispy Kreme’s eastside closing
Jesse Blanco

The look on the young man’s face when I asked him if I could take a picture with a few trays of his doughnuts during the Saturday morning rush was priceless.

“You know you picked probably the worst time of the day to do this.” He said.

“I know” I said. “But I need to save Savannah anymore heartbreak over the loss of our doughnuts.”

Then I bought a half dozen. And saved one for my sister.

It’s going to be OK, everyone. I promise.


About The Author

Jesse Blanco

One of the most recognizable personalities in the Savannah/Hilton Head Island television market, Jesse Blanco is sometimes called "Savannah's Anthony Bourdain." His 'Eat It and Like It' show has become a major regional brand in the foodie world.
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