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Will memories be as sweet from trendier Krispy Kreme?

By SUE CARLTON
Published November 16, 2005


If you're from the South, or the Southerners you met when you got here liked you well enough to introduce you, maybe you have your own memories of Krispy Kreme.

Maybe it was late nights in college, drinking coffee and watching those golden doughnuts roll off the racks. Maybe you wolfed them down by the boxful in high school (a freshman in my class held the record at 14). Or your parents took you there after church, where you burned your fingers on the glossy sugar of a hot glazed so light it practically floated.

Maybe you're a boss who uses them as bribes, or a Bucs fan who makes the place a game-day ritual.

No, no, this is not an obituary. The store on Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard, which over more than half a century has survived everything from a devastating fire to Vanna White as an employee to the company's financial ups and downs, is not about to close.

But it is going wireless. Sometime in the not-too-distant future, the place will be more welcoming to the Starbucks crowd, with their laptops and headsets and cell phones. Gone, too, will be those signature aquamarine walls; it's leaning toward earth tones. No word on when the five other Tampa Bay area stores might follow.

Why does this change make me sort of sad? It's not like Krispy Kreme hasn't evolved past the days of counter stools and paper hats. It serves fancy specialty drinks and cappuccino, and I seem to remember a thankfully brief flirtation with bagels (a tough old bagel instead of a hot glazed - imagine!). Krispy Kreme even opened in Manhattan, though I picture New Yorkers eating them with a sense of worldly irony, as if they're tasting some bizarre Southern delicacy like a pickled pig's foot, only much better. Anyway, Krispy Kreme made Sex and the City and Friends.

Humorist Roy Blount Jr., Southerner by birth, told a reporter about the day he was handed a cold Krispy Kreme doughnut in New York. "Something in my heart broke just a little bit," he was quoted as saying, and if you've had one (or two, or three), you understand.

This is precisely the problem with change. When I walk into my local Krispy Kreme on Kennedy - only a few blocks from where the bay area's first opened in 1952 - I want it to look like it did in the days when reputed mob boss Santo Trafficante stopped in (probably a cake doughnut man). I want to see big-bellied cops on break, not gym-skinny yuppies online. I want that blue diner haze of cigarette smoke hanging over everyone, and I hate cigarette smoke.

At the Kennedy Krispy Kreme this week, a few couples sat over steaming coffee, talking or not talking, but no one had a cell phone stuck to an ear. Customer Sandra Kapuscinski, who stopped in with her mother for a dozen, was more philosophical about change than me.

"That's cool," she said. "As long as they don't change the doughnuts."

She didn't even have to say the hot glazed. We both knew what she meant.

Speaking of change, did you hear the rumor that Trappmans, the bustling fresh seafood market on the St. Pete side of the Gandy Bridge - a place locals go for filets, claws and crab legs - has a date with a bulldozer?

Mike White says he gets the question from customers a dozen times a day: Is it true you're selling out to developers? His place is not far from where residents recently fought off a push to bring in a 150,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter.

White, who bought the wonderfully smelly old place a few months back, says, yes, change is coming. But don't choke on your grouper just yet.

White wants to develop the property into a strip mall. He says he'll either move Trappmans to property he owns a couple of blocks away on Gandy, or buy property adjacent to the current Trappmans and have both the seafood place and the strip mall there.

White says he wants to move dirt by the end of the year.

Sue Carlton can be reached at carlton@sptimes.com

[Last modified November 16, 2005, 01:08:07]


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