One of the country’s best-known doughnut brands is back in downtown Chicago after a more than 10-year hiatus. North Carolina-based fried-dough empire Krispy Kreme opens a new shop today in the Loop’s Block 37 Shops on the pedway level that connects to the CTA Red and Blue Lines. The last downtown Krispy Kreme closed in 2005 and a location in Archer Heights shuttered five years later.
Krispy Kreme updated its look for the first time in 10 years this summer, hoping to create a “brighter feeling,” according to local franchisee and Chicagoland Restaurants, LLC president Carlos Larcada. The restaurant, called the “Chicago Fresh Shop,” features pendant light fixtures and pops of bright green against a lettered greyscale wallpaper. “We had gone toward darker coffee shop hues, which made it a little more cozy. This is more modern,” he said.
At 1,000 square feet, the space isn’t large enough for a kitchen so drivers will deliver doughnuts to the downtown store twice daily from the chain’s suburban shops. Larcada plans to offer 20 varieties, including seasonal Halloween offerings such as a trio of monstrous doughnuts: “Slimon,” (Original Glazed doughnut, lemon “slime” filling, green icing, green Kreme dollop), “Mumford” (Original Glazed doughnut, purple icing), and “Hypno‑Henry” (doughnut filled with cake batter, yellow icing, orange sanding sugar).
The new location offers coffee (brewed or iced), frozen lattes, and espresso drinks, but the new over-the-top milkshakes the chain rolled out this summer are exclusive to the flagship shop in North Carolina. The space contains two tables with two chairs each and a handful of seats are available outside its doors, Larcada said, but the spot is primarily designed to serve on-the-go Red and Blue Line commuters.
Krispy Kreme first announced its return to Chicagoland in 2015 with eight planned locations. Three shops have since opened in suburban Homewood, Evergreen Park, and Hillside. Lacarda expects to build four to six more in the next few years, though plans are not concrete. But Krispy Kreme’s “Chicago Fresh Shop” is now open in the Block 37 Shops at 108 N. State Street.
Krispy Kreme, Block 37 Pedway, 108 N. State Street, open 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday.