Madison’s Krispy Kreme Saga May End Sweetly

For all of you who are still waiting, you’ll just have to hold out just a little longer until Madison has its own ‘Hot Doughnuts Now’

By Adam Saraceno

Taste buds of countless Madisonians are still sore from a wave of mouth-watering anticipation that swept across Dane County in December 2001. Three years later, the only way to get a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut in to Madison is to smuggle a box from West Allis, Brookfield or the latest Onalaska store. Surprising, considering the optimistic forecasts from managers of Glazed Investments, LLC, the Oak Brook, IL-based company that owns the franchise rights to Krispy Kreme in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado.

It wasn’t that long ago that it seemed that a Madison Krispy Kreme would soon be a reality. In December 2001, Chuck Knoblauch, regional manager of Glazed Investments, told the Capital Times that Krispy Kreme’s arrival to Madison "could be as soon as next summer (2002) and within a year is a safe bet." Surely, Knoblauch’s bet had favorable odds at the time. But what happened to the doughnuts?

According to Glazed Investments vice president of development Larry Gadola, Knoblauch’s statement was a prediction.

"We have a goal to open a store in Madison," Gadola said, "but it takes time."

In the world of commercial development, a multitude of factors – such as governmental building regulations, property taxes, integrated marketing programs and seasonal weather fluctuations – can bind even the most clear-cut of projects with red tape.

“We looked at many locations in Madison that for one reason or another didn’t work out," he said. "The development that we are looking at now has been going though the city approval process since last year. After the project is approved, the developer still has to build roads and sewers and get the land prepped. And then we have to go in and do our own thing on top of that – it just takes time."

The project Gadola refers to is a planned commercial development that will eventually sit on an six-to-eight-acre field aside the Beltline between I-90 and East Towne Mall. The empty plot is one of the last small chunks of uninhabited land remaining from the largely redeveloped 250-acre Zeier family farm. Opitz Realty is representing the Zeier family for the duration of the project, which is currently undergoing revisions as it drudges through the City Planning and Development Department’s approval process.

"The lot is being re-subdivided to allow Krispy Kreme to be included," stated K.C. Opitz, president of Opitz Realty. "The area is already commercial-zoned, but we want to make sure the development has pedestrian-friendly linkages. We’re hoping to make a submittal in 30-60 days."

That submittal would be given to the Development Department’s Plan Commission, a 9-member board of alders and local citizens would review and hopefully approve the new development, and then pass the decision on to the Common Council to give final approval. Once that occurs, roads, sewers and electrical lines still need to be laid down. Meanwhile Krispy Kreme will have to go through its own approval process. Between stays at the Plan Commission and the Common Council, they will be stopping in at the Urban Design Commission, a committee of 13 individuals with architectural backgrounds who represent and defend the public concern for commercial district aesthetics. Assuming the Urban Design Commission doesn’t require Krispy Kreme to make any drastic alterations to their plans, the company would then be able to begin constructing their store and assembling a crew to operate it.

"Krispy Kreme was the first company under contract with the development, and they’ve been pushing the hardest to move things forward," Opitz said. "The project itself is unnamed, but I’ve heard people refer to it as the ‘Krispy Kreme project.’ Why shouldn’t they? Everyone and their mother are lining up to buy a dozen."

And their grandmother, uncle, cousin and cousin’s cousin. The West Allis store opened on December 11, 2001 and sold $308,000 of doughnuts and coffee in their first week. When the Onalaska store opened on January 23 of this year, customers camped out for three days in frigid temperatures just to be at the front of the line when the renowned “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign first illuminated on opening day.

"We know Madison is going to be a fantastic market," Joel Aaseby, chief financial officer of Glazed Investments, said. "Madison’s population, location and demographics are attractive. We think the college town atmosphere and high level of tourism will help us, too."

So stop worrying! The folks at Glazed Investments still acknowledge our city as being sucrose-friendly. Krispy Kreme wants your business just as badly as you want theirs, but it’s going to take some time. Just about the only thing without the power to delay a commercial development in Madison is the dirt you build on … once it thaws.

–Saraceno is a business editorial intern at Madison Magazine.