The KING of doughnuts and the doughnut of Kings
N. Florida Ave. just north of Waters Ave.
In 1952, Atlanta accountant Bill McCoy heard about Krispy Kreme doughnuts from golfing buddies. McCoy invested in a southwest Florida franchise and learned how to roll the yeast-raised dough, cut it, and fry it in vegetable oil. He quickly moved to Tampa, opening the first Krispy Kreme in Tampa on Grand Central Ave. in 1952
In 1954, he moved it a few blocks up the road to a building that was a neighborhood grocery store on Grand Central (today's Kennedy Blvd.) between MacDill Ave. and Henderson Blvd. and added a coffee bar. Since 1954, every day (except for about seven months in 1996) from 4:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., the Krispy Kreme now at 3113 W Kennedy Blvd. catered to everyone from south Tampa yuppies to Tampa city police officers on the late-night shift.
To meet the increased demand for his tasty, hot, fried wheels of sugary dough, Bill McCoy opened another store in 1968 at 8425 N. Florida Avenue, just north of Waters, and kept it open 24 hours a day.
In the mid-1970s, teenage Vanna Marie, the daughter of Joan Marie and Miguel Angel Rosich, moved to Tampa for a chance to learn more about her father, who lived in Oldsmar. Her parents divorced when she was less than a year old, and she was raised by her mother and stepfather. She moved in with her dad until a falling-out forced her to move and get an apartment off MacDill Avenue near Kennedy Blvd. While living there, she took odd jobs as receptionist and sales clerk at various nearby businesses. Just a few blocks away was her favorite coffee and doughnut spot, the Krispy Kreme on W. Kennedy Blvd. She even worked there for a brief time behind the counter.
Less than a year after moving into her own apartment in Tampa, she headed to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. As a young child, Vanna had taken the name of her stepfather, Herbert Stackley White Jr., a former real estate agent. You know Vanna as the lady who turns the letters on "Wheel of Fortune."
In 1983, Bill McCoy passed away and his son Robert continued to run the business. Bob was just 2 years old when his dad started Krispy Kreme in Tampa. He got his start at the very bottom, so to speak, cleaning the restrooms.
By the 1990s, Krispy Kreme had established itself throughout the south and on April 5, 2000, the company when public. By 2002, the company had expanded rapidly and opened 82 new stores, for a total of 217, including 21 stores in the fourth quarter of 2001.
Around 1994, the Florida Avenue store took over all doughnut-making for the Kennedy Boulevard store. Then on Tuesday morning of March 12, 1996, disaster struck. Black smoke billowed from the Krispy Kreme on Kennedy Blvd. As the electrical fire destroyed the building, a sense of shock, followed by quiet mourning, settled over a crowd of more than 100 onlookers.
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For many Tampans, it was like losing an old friend. Part of Tampa's history went up in smoke, as well as the livelihood of many who had worked there for many years. Wendy Terry, who worked there for almost 10 years, felt as though she had been burned out of her home. Bob McCoy was left with only his Florida Avenue Krispy Kreme, which his father had opened to meet the growing demand for doughnuts.
On Oct. 5, 1996 throngs of Krispy Kreme faithful turned out for the first day's business in the new store, which rose from the ashes of the old store. Shiny, clean green tables and chairs replaced the old decor. More parking and a drive-through window greeted old-timers, who seemed unfazed by the newfangled improvements and a 20-minute wait.
In 2000, Mark Gauthier, president of Gulf Florida Doughnuts, the Tampa-based franchise of Krispy Kreme, opened a new doughnut factory on East Lake Avenue when it outgrew the one on Florida Avenue. There, the company began to fry 120,000 to 218,000 doughnuts a day in the 60,000 square foot facility. Made from a secret mix, they are packed into trays and onto racks, then rolled into trucks where they are delivered to hundreds of supermakets, convenience stores, and fund raisers in southwest Florida.
In November of 2002, Krispy Kreme opened in Carrollwood at 11790 N. Dale Mabry. How long would you wait for a Krispy Kreme doughnut? Two USF students spent a night, 7 hours, on the sidewalk so they could be the very first customers at the store's 5 a.m. debut on Tuesday, Nov. 12th. Motorists slept in the drive-through lane. Predawn visitors rejoiced in festivities that included music by the Blake High School Band. A basset hound named Woody E. Donuts, the store mascot, wore a red button that flashed "Hot Doughnuts Now."
Another Krispy Kreme opened around this time in New Tampa on Bruce B. Downs Blvd. This one, and the one in Carrollwood, closed in July of 2006.
In 2002, Bob McCoy was Chief Executive Officer of Krispy Kreme, Inc., holding 80 percent of the franchise.
In 2003, the Florida Avenue shop was staffed by 85-year-old "Tiny." She only worked part-time, and not at the cash register, but she kept the display cases well-stocked and served the customers. If you remember the old Sulphur Springs arcade, you may remember Maves Five & Dime, Sanders' drugstore and Whitehead's drugstore. Tiny was the girl behind the lunch counter at Whitehead’s Drug Store. In the 1940s she prepared all the salads. You could have four different kinds of salad on a cracker at Whiteheads.
Krispy Kreme's roots go back to 1933 when 18-year-old Vernon Rudolph bought a doughnut shop in Paducah, KY from a New Orleans French chef. The story goes that Rudolph won the closely-guarded doughnut recipe in a card game.
He then moved the business to Nashville, TN and family members opened shops in Charleston, WV and Atlanta. In 1937, Rudolph moved his business to Winston-Salem, NC, where Rudolph's doughnuts became Krispy Kreme.
It was Rudolph's intent to make his doughnuts to sell to grocery stores. He would deliver them from the back of his Pontiac. But he soon realized that he could sell directly to customers so he added a window to his factory to sell the doughnuts fresh off the line.
Another of Rudolph's ideas that is still in practice is a program that allows schools to buy doughnuts at a discount and resell them as fund raisers. The program helped Rudolph cut advertising costs and ensured that Krispy Kreme would become part of the high school experience.
Rudolph's big success came in franchising his doughnut store concept. He died in Winston-Salem on Aug. 16, 1973 at age 58.