WASILLA — The Shoppes at Sun Mountain will welcome their third open business when Krispy Kreme opens their doors on Tuesday at 6 a.m.
Following Sonic that opened in 2019 and Planet Fitness earlier this spring, Krispy Kreme hopes to provide doughnuts to the people of the Valley in a way they have never experienced before. Franchisee Jack Lewis, operating partner at North to Alaska LLC doing business as Krispy Kreme of Alaska, helped bring the first Krispy Kreme in Alaska to Anchorage in 2016 and is now expanding to Wasilla. When pitching to open a second franchise in Wasilla, Lewis said that he had to convince company executives that Wasilla was far enough away from Anchorage to warrant a second franchise in Southcentral Alaska.
“I had to explain to them it’s another world, a very active community,” said Lewis.
Lewis took Krispy Kreme executives on a site visit, sitting in traffic at the corner of the Parks Highway and Palmer-Wasilla Highway and parking at Fred Meyer to watch the people of Wasilla. Lewis said that the executives were astounded at all the four-wheelers and boats in the parking lot.
“I’m in the back seat of the car and they turned to me and they go oh, we’re building a store in Wasilla, Alaska,” said Lewis.
The 2,800 square foot space will feature a different, more modern design than the Anchorage location which is designed more as a factory setting. Where painted block letter menus are found in Anchorage, Wasilla’s Krispy Kreme will have menus on TV monitors and sprinkles are painted on the walls. The Krispy Kreme doughnut making machine in Anchorage pumps out 270 dozen doughnuts per hour while the 110 M machine in Wasilla will produce 110 dozen doughnuts per hour. On Tuesday, doughnut-seeking Valley residents will have three socially distanced options to get their fill of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
A parking crew will arrive at 5 a.m. to begin directing cars through the drive-through line. Inside, patrons can either choose individual doughnuts from the counter or get in the socially-distanced speed line for their box of a dozen glazed doughnuts.
“To be aware of the consciousness of the Lower 48 still going through some very very serious COVID issues, we’re enjoying a little less and a lot of parts of the country are not so this will be a little bit softer opening,” said Lewis.
Lewis hired 80 staff members that have produced and prepared 2,702 doughnuts to practice for Tuesday morning’s opening. The furniture in Krispy Kreme has been removed to allow for distance between people in the speed line for doughnuts, and trainers have been brought up from the Lower 48 to help get employees up to speed.
Athena Banes from Decatur, Alabama, has taken part in over a dozen Krispy Kreme store openings.
“I love what I’m doing, I love it. I love training people but my home store is in Decatur and this is like the 12th or 14th one I’ve done the store open so it’s really good,” said Banes.
Krispy Kreme trainers put in for store openings around the world. Marketing Director Steve Halloran visited the tallest building in the world in Dubai and enjoyed the Krispy Kreme on the bottom floor. Alaska’s new store was one of the most highly requested openings among Krispy Kreme trainers.
“We have a store that we’re about to open on the same day in Baton Rouge. It’s going to open on the same day as here. I was talking to some of them the day before I flew up here. When they found out where I was going as opposed to where they are, from what I hear there was almost a riot down there,” said trainer David Anderson. “This is my second time to Alaska and I love it, absolutely love it. When we opened that store in Anchorage it was August or September so there wasn’t as much snow in the mountains and all that. The scenery is beautiful. Everybody here has been super nice. All the trainers, we kind of want to move up here and we’re all from either Alabama or North Carolina. We are just super excited to be here. We cannot wait to open.”
As 80 employees learn to glaze, fill and put chocolate on doughnuts properly in preparation for hungry customers next week, Lewis said that the opening day of a new business is like the Super Bowl for him as a business owner.
Krispy Kreme is the third of The Shoppes at Sun Mountain to open. Fred Meyer Fuels, MTA, Tacos Cancun and Zag Invisible Shield will follow Planet Fitness and Krispy Kreme in opening in 2020 at the massive shopping center Cameron Johnson has begun developing. Johnson says that when Krispy Kreme opens, The Shoppes will be at 25 percent complete, but may have the completion date delayed by the effects of COVID-19 on construction.
“We anticipate Krispy Kreme to have a huge opening and have massive success,” said Johnson.
Sonic broke records for the fastest open of any Sonic franchise after their fall opening in 2019 and Johnson said that Planet Fitness had similar momentum before the global coronavirus pandemic reached Alaska. Krispy Kreme was founded in 1937 and will soon be producing thousands of doughnuts per day in Wasilla. The fully computerized automated doughnut maker is produced specifically by Krispy Kreme. Lewis said that the mechanics that built the machine inside the Wasilla location are some of only a handful in the world with that expertise.
“This is where all the magic happens. This is a fully computerized donut making machine exclusively made by Krispy Kreme only, fully computerized, so sensitive that if the doughnut weights coming off of the the injectors are off by a fraction of an ounce bells and whistles will go off. It’s astonishing,” said Lewis. “Everything is computerized. Water temperatures bells and whistles will go off if the water temperature varies by one degree. Donut making is not as simple as people think. If you really want to do it correctly, especially when you’re doing 110 dozen an hour. The machine will never turn off for seven days other than the three hours of cleaning.”