Just outside of the main entrance of Krispy Kreme’s new store in Concord, North Carolina, sits a massive pink doughnut covered with sprinkles. This bright, Instagramable feature—which doubles as a patio bench—is just one of the new interactive features incorporated into the store’s innovative redesign.
The fresh prototype represents Krispy Kreme’s most comprehensive shop redesign in more than a decade, the company said. Walk into the restaurant and you’ll be greeted with the classic open kitchen Krispy Kreme is known for, only this store is more colorful and more Krispy Kreme—if that’s even possible.
Krispy Kreme’s chief marketing officer, Dave Skena, says entertaining guests is nothing new for the brand. The open kitchen and glaze waterfall are important elements of the customer experience, but the updated model takes the notion up a notch.
The addition of portal windows allows guests to peer further into the back of the kitchen, and an interactive tabletop game keeps the doughnut-inspired experience going as guests eat. A 40-foot high “Hot Now” sign illuminates outside and inside to alert guests the doughnuts are hot and ready whether they’re driving by or already waiting in line.
“We’re getting better at it every year,” Skena says. “It’s a treat, an occasional treat for kids [and families], so you don’t get this kind of thing every day. When they come in you want to make sure they’re having a great time. If we can bring that experience to everyone we will.”
The introduction of customizable doughnuts on the menu lets customers choose from five different glazes, 10 toppings, and five drizzle flavors.
Guests have a front-row seat to watch as employees hand-glaze their creations, which adds another level to the experience. It plays into the realm of imagination people crave when they dine at Krispy Kreme, Skena says.
“You see [customization] in other segments of the industry so there’s a clear desire for it. Why shouldn’t we be able to do that?” Skena says. “It’s fun for everyone. [All of the elements] just help generations connect over an experience.”
Additionally, the design incorporates new digital menuboards—a first for the brand. Skena admits they’re late adopters to the technology, but it made sense to use it in Krispy Kreme’s modern store update.
Traffic both in-store and drive thru happens frequently. In the process of the redesign, the Krispy Kreme team asked how it could expand access and increase customer convenience, Skena says. With that in mind, the design now features a mobile pick-up area so people can skip the line and a double drive thru to accommodate busier dayparts.
“It’s good to see a lot of things are making it easier for folks to engage with the brand and get what they want and have fun,” Skena says. “These are all things where we’re expanding access to the brand and we absolutely think they’re going to pay off for us.”
Moving forward, this model will be the go-to design for Krispy Kreme. There may be some tweaks here and there along the way, but as new locations are built and stores remodeled, each venue will have the color palette and features found at the Concord unit.
“We’ll probably continue to try [the interactive tabletop] and other things like it here and there and see what we get for the most fun for the dollar for the people that come in here,” Skena says. “We find some things that were great and some things that don’t work as great we’ll obviously do what makes the most sense for our customers and operators.”
Skena didn’t go into detail about specific markets the brand expects to target, but did confirm 45 new locations will open by the end of 2020. There is still room to grow in Krispy Kreme’s core areas.
Getting into the ice cream business
Krispy Kreme added ice cream to the menu in tandem with the design overhaul.
Krispy Kreme wanted to stay in the dessert business instead of developing other breakfast offerings and expanding into the segment. Ice cream was an easy choice, Skena says.
“The brand’s all about being an incredible sweet treat,” Skena says. “Moreover, we wanted to build on our legacy as the best doughnuts in the planet. So that comes through even in our ice cream.”
[float_image image=”https://www.qsrmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/krispy-kreme-milkshake.jpg” width=”50″ link=”” caption=”Krispy Kreme’s new handspun milkshakes come in five flavors and are topped with an original glazed doughnut. ” alt=”Krispy Kreme Doughnut Milkshake” align=”right” /]
To take the offering to another level, Krispy Kreme developed doughnut-infused ice cream. The chain uses doughnut-infused milk in every flavor. Original glazed doughnuts steep in milk for a whole day to make sure the classic flavor comes through.
“When we say doughnut-infused, it’s really doughnut-infused,” Skena says. “That milk has sort of absorbed all the doughnut, not just glaze, not just the sugar, but also the doughy, yeasty component as well and that’s why when you taste this ice cream it feels so much like our original glaze.”
The Concord shop’s expanded menu includes:
- Scoop sandwiches, the brand’s take on the classic ice cream sandwich, featuring Original Glazed Doughnut infused ice cream, scooped between a sliced doughnut with a combination of toppings and drizzles. Options include Vanilla Sprinkled, Triple Chocolate, Cookies & Kreme, Vanilla Chip, Chocolatey Caramel Coconut, and Vanilla Fruity Crunch.
- Hand-spun milkshakes made with Original Glazed Doughnut infused ice cream, topped with whipped cream and a mini-Original Glazed Doughnut. Flavors include Vanilla Glazed, Double Chocolate, Salty Caramel, Classic Strawberry, and Oreo Cookies & Kreme.
Business at the new store is booming, Skena says, but it’s still in its infancy having only opened July 23. Guests can also expect sweeter things at Krispy Kreme in the future building on the ice cream launch, Skena says. The brand doesn’t want to isolate one category in the dessert segment.
Innovation is great, but at the end of the day, Krispy Kreme is known for its hot doughnuts and iconic logo and it won’t stray too far from who it is at its core, Skena says.
“A lot of our future is in our past and we’ll never reach a point where that original glazed doughnut isn’t the start of it all,” he says. “We’ll never forget that. So you’ll see us continue to halo off that and build equity around that.”