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The doughnut maker will remain in Roanoke, but won't repair the fire-damaged shop on Melrose Ave.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
The Krispy Kreme store on Melrose Avenue was more than 55 years old.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
An original Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
The Krispy Kreme location on Melrose Avenue, built in 1957, was a “heritage store” that made millions of doughnuts each year.
Monday, June 3, 2013
For more than 55 years, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on Melrose Avenue in Roanoke has pumped out soft, melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts for customers across Southwest Virginia and in parts of North Carolina and West Virginia.
But on Monday, company officials announced they would not repair the iconic restaurant, which was damaged by a fire late last week. Never again will the red neon “hot” sign blaze in the window of that particular store.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Roanoke will never again be home to a Krispy Kreme store — in a news release, company spokesman Brian K. Little said the business will “continue its ongoing efforts to locate another suitable location in the Roanoke community.”
“We are committed to Krispy Kreme having a retail presence in the Roanoke area for some time to come,” the release stated. “However, we have determined that the best business decision would be to focus our efforts going forward on locating a suitable site to build a new Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop.”
The Roanoke Fire-EMS Department responded to a call at the shop in the 4100 block of Melrose Avenue Northwest about 7:45 p.m. Thursday. Deputy Chief Ralph Tartaglia said smoke was coming from the eaves of the building when firefighters arrived. The blaze was under control within 15 minutes and nobody was injured, but the structure sustained about $100,000 in damage.
Fire-EMS spokeswoman Tiffany Bradbury said the blaze was caused by an electrical failure in the attic.
Jeff Bacon, former manager of the Melrose store, told The Roanoke Times in October that it was one of the oldest Krispy Kreme locations that had never been remodeled. Built in 1957, the building was both a retail location and a “heritage store,” meaning that millions of doughnuts were made there every year and trucked out on sales routes that included stops at grocery and convenience stores. Little said the doughnuts will still be available at those retailers, but they will be delivered from other Krispy Kreme locations.
According to Little, 50 people were employed at the restaurant, but the company is working to reassign them to other Krispy Kreme locations. The closest store in Virginia is in Richmond , but there are more than 20 Krispy Kreme shops in North Carolina.
Anne Faries , 77, of Roanoke, worked at the Melrose store for more than 30 years. She decided to retire last week, not because of the fire but because she has great-grandchildren and it was time to “hang it up” while she is still in good health. Faries said several employees of the Roanoke store had worked there for more than 20 years and the staff and customers were like a family.
“I just had such a great association with all my regulars that I’m going to miss them, but I’m going to be keeping up with them and keeping them in my life,” she said.
One of those regulars, 81-year-old Junior Hodges of Roanoke, said he’s been visiting the Melrose Avenue Krispy Kreme location since he returned from the Korean War in the late 1950s.
“I used to sit in there and watch them drive them golf balls across the street where that mall is now,” he said. “The wife went over there several times, but she’s more of a home body.”
Lately, he said, he had been stopping by the restaurant twice a day — once about 8 a.m. and again about 2 p.m. — to shoot the breeze with other regulars and sip coffee. As a diabetic he couldn’t eat the doughnuts anymore, but he still enjoyed the atmosphere.
Since the fire last week, he said, he hasn’t seen his Krispy Kreme buddies.
“I thought maybe they’d be up at Hardee’s or McDonalds, but I went by there and had a coffee at Hardee’s at Lakeside” and they weren’t there, he said.
Another regular, Phil Johns Sr. of Roanoke, said he was shocked by news of the closure. Before the fire, Johns’ routine was to stop by the store to “sit and mingle and talk” every morning between 9 and 10:30 a.m. He said he’s been a customer of that location since he was a little kid going grocery shopping with his mother across the street.
If Krispy Kreme builds another shop in Roanoke, Johns said, he’ll frequent it only if it’s close enough to his house off Peters Creek Road. Until then, he said “I’m in mourning.”
“I’ve just been going straight to work,” he said. “I’ve been going cold turkey. I’ve got the shakes right now.”
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