The “Hot now” sign was lit and more than 100 people camped out for glazed satisfaction as the new Krispy Kreme doughnut shop in Fresno opened for business early Tuesday morning.
The bakery at 5692 N. Blackstone Ave., between Bullard and Barstow avenues, opened at 5:30 a.m.
The place was packed throughout the morning with about 100 people inside and a line of more than two dozen customers standing outside. More than 40 cars were in the drive-thru – the line stretching all the way to the northern edge of the Target parking lot.
The first person in line got there Sunday night. Another 100 were in line by 5:15 p.m. Monday.
The draw wasn’t just the hot, soft glazed doughnuts that were dunked in frying oil and coated with a curtain of sugary glaze seconds before being handed over to customers.
The first person in line got a dozen free glazed doughnuts each week for a year. The next 99 got a free dozen every month for a year, and all 100 got commemorative T-shirts.
About 140 camped out overnight with tents and sleeping bags, despite the morning low of 43 degrees. Krispy Kreme provided some patio heaters and entertained customers Monday night.
“There was a party, dancing, DJ. We had a fun time,” said Roland Spongberg, CEO of WKS Restaurant Group, the company that owns this Krispy Kreme franchise.
He was on hand Tuesday morning, sneaking doughnuts to a 3-year-old and 5-year-old who were waiting patiently in the long line.
Fresno Krispy Kreme fans are especially dedicated, said Lisa Hignite, senior operations manager.
The Fresno opening was the fastest she ever has handed out wristbands used to identify the first 100, she said. And fewer people dropped out throughout the night than other locations. Customers had to stay in line all night to get the free doughnuts, with occasional line checks by a security guard throughout the night.
When the doughnut shop opened, two lines stretched past the doughnut-making operation behind glass that customers watched as they waited.
One line was for all glazed doughnuts, another for people who wanted a variety. Friends Lizette Santos and Jessenia Castro of Fresno waited about 45 minutes in the slower line to try a variety of doughnuts that included cinnamon-apple filled, strawberry iced and blueberry cake, and Santa-themed.
“We knew the line was going to be long and we were ready for it,” Santos said. “We don’t mind at all.”
Robert Ybarra of Fresno is a Krispy Kreme newbie who tried the doughnuts for the first time months ago in Los Angeles. He described them as “heaven” in his mouth.
He and family members bought two dozen – one box for the family, one box for him.
He wasn’t joking.
“I just like them,” he said.
The Krispy Kreme drive-thru will be open 24 hours for the first four weeks. Whether it stays that way will depend on how busy it is.
And that deja vu you feel? It’s real. Fresno had a Krispy Kreme on North Blackstone Avenue in what is now Chick-fil-A.
Its 2001 opening drew a couple hundred people before its 5:30 a.m. opening, and the Fresno City Council proclaimed it “Krispy Kreme Day.”
But that excitement fizzled when the store closed in 2007, along with many other locations around that time, including the Visalia store that closed two years before.
The new location employs more than 70 people.
It opens at 5:30 a.m. daily, closing at 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and at 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.