Krispy Kreme is embarking on its most ambitious New York City expansion in more than a decade.
The doughnut chain is opening seven locations in the city by the end of 2020, including a new Times Square flagship that will be open 24-7. It’s a reversal for Krispy Kreme in the nation’s largest city, where it currently has only one location.
“If we’re going to be the most-loved sweet treat brand, then we have to be in places like New York,” Andrew Skehan, Krispy Kreme’s president of North America, told CNN Business. He said the northeast is a “big gap” company, where its main rival Dunkin’ (DNKN)dominates.
At its peak, the company had six New York City shops before closing all but its Penn Station spot in 2009. Krispy Kreme struggled when it was a public company, but it has grown steadily since JAB Holdings bought it for $1.35 billion in 2016 and took it private.
Krispy Kreme has opened 64 stores in the US in the past four years, bringing its total to 380 locations. It’s also remodeling 350 of its US stores and testing new menu items in some locations, including milkshakes and customizable doughnuts.
Krispy Kreme’s steady growth comes as customers are shifting their tastes away from sugary foods, rivals are diversifying their menus with alternative meats and some restaurants are struggling to stay alive.
But according to Skehan, the privately-held company is doing just fine.
“Our philosophy is everything in moderation,” he said of the restaurant’s doughnut-centric menu. “Customers are being more aware of what they’re consuming and whatever they’re consuming is the best possible treat to consume.” He also said sales are “growing consistently,” but declined to give specific numbers.
He said that Krispy Kreme would expand its menu beyond doughnuts and coffee if there’s demand. But for now, the brand is focused on creating treats to the “highest possible standard” and “expanding customers’ ability to access them because our brand is bigger than our footprint,” he said.
For its New York expansion, a newly remodeled Penn Station location will open Thursday followed by a new midtown location on Febrary 4. The other locations will be in the Financial District, the Bronx near Fordham University, Harlem and the Upper West Side.
The company’s new flagship in Times Square, which is a sprawling 4,500-square-foot space with stadium-style seating, will open in May.
Skehan said it had more than 2,500 applicants for the 400 jobs at its New York stores. The restaurants will also have exclusive-to-the-city doughnuts, he said.
As for the splashy Times Square location, Krispy Kreme hopes it creates excitement for the 80-year-old brand. “We see it as much as a global stage as much as national stage,” he said about the tourist attraction. “It’s a global platform for us to continue grow awareness and educate consumers.”