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Krispy Kreme breaks ground in Bay State

By Chris Reidy, Globe Staff, 12/12/2002

MEDFORD - Its doughnuts may inspire devotion, but Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. learned yesterday that hot Southern doughnuts and cold New England weather don't always mix.

To celebrate the groundbreaking of its first Massachusetts store, North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme dispatched a special truck that converts into a mini doughnut factory.

Known as the Krispy Kreme Mobile Store, the truck was supposed to dispense doughnuts after a 10 a.m. groundbreaking ceremony here, near Wellington Circle, and then sell them to the public till 7 p.m.

But it was the truck's first trip north in December, and the water it stores for the baking process had frozen, delaying the serving of the doughnuts by nearly an hour.

Undaunted were people who stood in an outdoor line to sample a treat revered as a Tarheel State delicacy. Most waited for under 30 minutes, Krispy Kreme spokeswoman Becky Shell said. Some waited longer. By 6:30 p.m., about 700 people had shown up, she estimated.

One early arrival was Paschal Healy, a 33-year-old software consultant. This was his third Krispy Kreme pilgrimage. For a store opening in Connecticut, he camped in the parking lot.

''When I got out of my tent at 4:30 a.m., there were 300 people in line,'' recalled Healy. ''It was kind of like Filene's Basement when they have the wedding-dress sale.''

Social worker Kathy Donovan of Malden was equally impressed by Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

''These are awesome,'' she said.

The Medford store, which city officials described as a $3 million investment, is set to open in the spring. Stores aim to transform the doughnut-making process into a theatrical extravaganza.

As customers look on, doughnuts are floated on a river of hot oil to a conveyor belt that sends them, carwash style, through a waterfall glaze. The mobile store replicates much of that experience. If its water supply can be kept unfrozen, it plans to stay on the Medford site and sell doughnuts through Sunday.

Krispy Kreme's local franchisee is the Jan Cos. of Cranston, R.I. Jan president Nick Janikies said candidates for the next local Krispy Kremes may be Dedham and Saugus.

Partly because much space is needed for a store that makes doughnuts on the premises, a full-blown Krispy Kreme store requires a larger site than most fast-food operations. Available sites of that size can be hard to find in densely populated Greater Boston.

Although both Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme use the word ''doughnuts'' in their name, the chains have differences as well as similarities. If Krispy Kreme is about hot, fresh treats and doughnut theater, Dunkin' Donuts is about quality coffee and everyday convenience.

In a statement, Randolph-based Dunkin' Donuts noted that the two companies co-exist and thrive in several markets, including Atlanta and Chicago. Such may be the case in Boston.

Back at the mobile store, it took Medford business owner Ellen Iacopucci nearly two hours to work her way to the counter and buy $57 worth of Krispy Kremes. Had she ever waited in line for anything longer?

''I stood in line for tickets for the Dave Matthews Band,'' she said. ''But that was for my son.''
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