By Stuart Sudak
When Len Simich left work at the nearby bus station a couple Fridays ago, Krispy Kreme was still selling doughnuts at its store in SouthWest Station in Eden Prairie. When he returned to work the following Monday, Dumpsters stood outside its doors.
There was a sign on the empty building stating it had closed. The note redirected customers to its lone Minnesota Krispy Kreme location: Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove.
That was July 30. Two weeks later, the business remains shuttered.
Simich, executive director of SouthWest Transit which is stationed nearby, said he had no advanced notice that the Krispy Kreme would close. Simich helped plan the transit-oriented development surrounding the transit station before it was built several years ago.
“It kind of caught us by surprise,” said Simich. “I had been talking with their manager on and off for the last few months knowing other locations were shutting their doors. They had felt this location was going to stay open just because of the amount of doughnuts they shipped out of here to other locations. But that wasn’t the case.”
Westward Dough, which owns Krispy Kreme franchises in Minnesota, has closed most of its stores in the state including the Eden Prairie location with a plan in mind, said spokesman John Kindred. He said the company is restructuring some of its properties as it figures out how to best serve the area.
“There’s no question they are going to be in the Krispy Kreme business, and continue to own Krispy Kreme stores,” said John Kindred of Westward Dough, which bought the franchises from Glazed Investments about two years ago. “It’s the question where they’re going to be in the area, focusing on developing them and keeping them going and running them well.”
Simich is confident the empty store at SouthWest Station will be home to something soon.
“This is a very good location,” he said. “For this site, you have to find your way to that facility. But it has the best visibility from the exit ramp and from Prairie Center Drive. I think something else will go in there, and I’ve been contacted by some folks thinking we have the ownership still, but I know there is some interest in it already.”
When it first came to Minnesota, Krispy Kreme was much heralded. What happened in the subsequent years?
“It was one of those fad things that when they came on, they had a very aggressive growth plan,” Simich surmised. “They’ve been around for a long time. They grew too fast, and they became like the Cabbage Patch Doll. When you couldn’t get your hands on it, everybody wanted it. Once they were mass producing them, nobody wanted them anymore. That’s what kind of happened with the doughnuts. And then, of course, the diets from Atkins to South Beach and everything else, and it just did them in.”