ST. PETERSBURG — The words "hot" and "now" will soon have new meaning beyond the Florida weather. A Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store is opening at 9100 Fourth St. N within weeks. It's about a mile north of a Dunkin' Donuts in the 7500 block.
Fans of the 76-year-old business know that when the "Hot Now" sign lights up, freshly made doughnuts are just coming off the belt.
"There's nothing else like it," said 29-year-old Randall Kies, who's helping build out the interior of the store, formerly the Ragin' Grill and before that a YaYa's Flame Broiled Chicken.
Krispy Kreme, which draws long lines around its buildings for store openings and birthday specials, has an app that alerts smartphone users if they are in the vicinity of hot doughnuts.
The free-standing store is owned by a franchise group headed by Bob McCoy, who owns several stores in Tampa Bay including two in Tampa and one in Palm Harbor, Lakeland and Brandon. Representatives of the franchise could not be reached for comment.
The McCoy family opened the Krispy Kreme on Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard in 1952. It burned to the ground in 1996, reopening six months later to record crowds that tied up traffic on Kennedy Boulevard.
Many St. Petersburg residents remember trips to the Krispy Kreme that stood at 3441 Central Ave. for decades. Local doughnut man Bill Fray bought it in the late 1990s and converted it to a Fray's Donuts.
Lafeea Watson, spokeswoman for the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Krispy Kreme, said the new St. Petersburg store is slated for a late-September opening.The first customers through the door or drive-through will get special deals, and she expects long lines if it's typical of all other store openings.
"I remember going to Krispy Kreme when I was a kid with my dad and we'd get hot ones right off the line," said Mike Boutwell as he helped put the signature green and white sign in place at the new store. "They just melt in your mouth. Dunkin' Donuts doesn't stand a chance now."
Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8785.