Homewood Krispy Kreme opens, marking chain’s Chicago-area return

  Cheryl Levy (left) and her
  daughter, Amy Shropshire,
  got in line for the Krispy Kreme
  opening at 5:30 p.m.on Monday 
  and waited over 12 hours for
  a taste of Krispy Kreme
  doughnuts. Levy won a free
  dozen doughnuts each week
  for a year and Shropshire
  won a free dozen each month
  for a year.
(Photos by Carrie 
  Steinweg/H-F Chronicle)

Retailers looking to up their crowds on Black Friday may want to take notes on how Homewood’s Krispy Kreme store executed its Tuesday opening.

Lines started forming Monday night at the store, located at 17815 S. Halsted St., and continued throughout its opening day.

The new store of the global doughnut maker has been highly anticipated not just locally, but throughout the entire region as it also marks Krispy Kreme’s return to the Chicago regional market.

While Krispy Kreme once had a large presence in the area, it’s been several years since the last store closed its doors. The Homewood outlet is the first of eight stores planned to open in Cook County by 2020. 

Expecting early crowds eager to get their first taste of the classic sweet treats, Krispy Kreme set up a heated tent for customers to line up in and entertained and fed them.

  Carlos Larcada, president of
  Chicagoland Restaurants, LLC
  stands in front of a conveyer
  of doughnut shells as the store
  prepared Monday night for the
  grand opening. 

The first 100 persons in line were rewarded with free doughnuts in the coming year. The first 12 received a free dozen a week for a year. The next 88 in line received a free dozen a month for a year.

A DJ played music and engaged the crowd with karaoke and those early in line filled up on complimentary pizza and soft drinks.

Julius Tomlin came from Chicago’s Hyde Park to be one of the first in line.

 “I work nights, so I’m used to being up all night,” he said. Tomlin’s spot as sixth in line guaranteed him a dozen doughnuts each week for a full year. He called doughnuts his “guilty pleasure” and said his co-workers initially questioned his sanity when they heard his plans.

“Now they’re congratulating me on Facebook,” he said.

Cheryl Levy of Homewood arrived at 5:30 p.m. on Monday and waited more than 12 hours.

“I love grand openings and I love waiting in lines,” she said. “I love the people, the friendliness, the excitement and the atmosphere.” She referred to herself as a “professional” who has waited in many lines and been among the first to get Cabbage Patch dolls, Beanie Babies, the original iPhone and Playstation.

Levy was 10th in line. Her daughter, Amy Shropshire, joined her in the 16th position and said she planned to share her free doughnuts with co-workers at the nearby daycare center where she works.

The store was developed by Chicagoland Restaurants LLC, a licensed Krispy Kreme franchisee.

Company President Carlos Larcada said an Aug. 15 groundbreaking was two years in the making. He said patrons can expect the same traditional menu items they’ve known, but the Homewood location is the second to open with an updated design.

“It’s made to feel warmer and more inviting and where you’d want to hang out,” Larcada said. “If you remember the old stores, they were more factory-like and it was reflected in the dining room. We’ve added wood and color and comfortable seating, but we have the same fantastic product and we’re grinding coffee from whole beans for a fresher blend.”

Larcada is pleased to have been able to open the first area store in Homewood.

“The municipality as been fantastic with us,” he said. “It’s a great place to get our feet wet in Chicagoland.”

The location will feature a 24-hour drive-through.

Also part of the opening festivities Tuesday morning was a formal ribbon cutting and performance by the Homewood-Flossmoor High School Marching Band.

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