Doughnut shop marks milestone
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Eva Clark vividly recalls the day that Krispy Kreme Doughnuts opened for business more than 25 years ago at 969 North Wesleyan Blvd.
"It was just amazing," said Clark, who had just been hired as a cashier. "It was so busy. I mean, the cars were lined up down the highway just waiting to get a hot doughnut."
Clark said she probably put in 10-12 hours on that opening day in February 1994. Clark worked her way up the ranks and has been an assistant manager since 2000.
Clark recalled Tuesday she had applied for a job at the Rocky Mount Krispy Kreme because she knew Krispy Kreme is a good name.
Much has changed since she first reported for work.
The original building was approximately 1,100 square feet in size and had two drive-up service windows.
The building was replaced in 2013 with an approximately 3,000-square-foot structure to include an eatery setting with a single drive-up window.
As for why she has remained a loyal employee, Clark said, "Because I like the place. It's a good place to work at. The people are good to work with — and I love people."
When she was hired by Krispy Kreme, she brought experience in the food service business from as far back as 1976.
Her resume includes having worked at Gardner's Barbecue, the former Carleton House restaurant and the Red Lobster seafood restaurant.
Clark, 61, of Rocky Mount, said she'd like to keep working for Krispy Kreme for approximately six more years.
Clark on Tuesday had kind words for the location's franchisee, Amanda Tilley.
"She's an easy person to work with," Clark said. "I mean, she's just a down-to-earth person. And you can basically talk to her about anything.”
Tilley is based in Greenville and she has a Krispy Kreme location close to East Carolina University as well as a Krispy Kreme in Goldsboro near the entrance to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
Tilley employs approximately 50 people at the Greenville location and approximately 27 people each at the Goldsboro and Rocky Mount locations.
Tilley said Tuesday she she believes the Rocky Mount location has stayed in business for a quarter of a century because they are “fortunate to have that great product."
"We have been fortunate to have great staff, super-friendly folks," she said.
The Rocky Mount Krispy Kreme and is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 6 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tilley said unlike most doughnut shops, the Rocky Mount location tends to be busier in the evenings on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
She said she believes the location being in a retail hub is the reason.
"I think people are in that area, shopping, enjoying a night out on the town. And since we're there and hopefully they see the hot light (meaning hot glazed doughnuts are available), they make us a part of their evening out," she said.
The place also had a stream of customers on Tuesday morning, with one of them being Charles Royster, 62, who’s a Battleboro resident and retiree.
Royster moved to the area in 2005 from the Bronx borough of New York City.
He noted doughnuts elsewhere sometimes can be hard and stiff.
"Here, it's fresh, it's soft — and it tastes good," he said after purchasing a dozen doughnuts to take home.
The beginning of the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts chain can be traced back to 1937. That’s when Vernon Rudolph, after purchasing a secret yeast-raised doughnut recipe from a New Orleans French chef, rented a building in Old Salem in Winston-Salem and began selling the product to grocery stores.