Dallas' nascent doughnut scene will get a boost this spring when Seattle's Top Pot Doughnuts opens its first branch here outside of its hometown. Top Pot co-founder Mark Klebeck confirms that the chain will open a store on Northwest Highway at Hillcrest. "We're looking at a spring opening, hoping for mid- to late April," he says.
Klebeck co-founded Top Pot with his brother Michael in 2002. They helped popularize the "old-fashioned," a cake doughnut which has a chunky, broken appearance and a longer shelf life than the more perishable raised doughnut that's the signature of Krispy Kreme.
The chain currently has 15 branches in Seattle, with another opening in that area at the same time the store opens in Dallas. Its doughnuts gained a national audience after it signed a deal in 2005 to supply its doughnuts to Starbucks. That deal ended in 2011.
"This is the honest-to-goodness first test for us going out of state," says Top Pot co-founder Mark Klebeck.
But one of its big drives to expand is its coffee operation, and that led to the termination of its partnership with Starbucks. "We had been roasting our own coffee for years, and it felt like it was time to get out on our own," Klebeck says. "We want to get into grocery retail not only with our doughnuts but also with our coffee."
Coffee will play a big role at the branch in Dallas.
"We're going to produce doughnuts fresh daily onsite and roasted coffee," he says. "There'll be seating if you want to sit and jump on Wi-Fi. It'll be like a typical cafe in Seattle."
Although Dallas has independent doughnut shops, it is still fertile ground for a doughnut shop to make headway. Krispy Kreme entered Dallas with a bang in 1999 before fizzling out in 2009, with three stores open. In July 2013, the company announced its intent to open 15 new stores over the next five years.
Dunkin Donuts has 15 outlets in Dallas-Fort Worth and has declared its desire to open 50 branches around town; four will open this spring. Meanwhile, two "artisan" doughnut shops have opened in recent years: Hypnotic Donuts and Glazed Donuts in Deep Ellum.
Top Pot will make both raised and cake doughnuts, about 38 to 40 varieties, plus sandwiches and pastries procured through a local bakery. Its best-seller is the glazed old-fashioned. The most exotic, Klebeck says, is probably the salted caramel. There are also raspberry old-fashioned doughnuts, with raspberry icing on top of a sour cream old-fashioned, and a blueberry cake doughnut.
"There are lots of markets we could have gone to; San Francisco, Los Angeles, East Coast has a lot of good buzz," he says. "But this is the honest-to-goodness first test for us going out of state. What we really wanted to do was find a place that was out of town and far enough away to measure it."