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Donut Drama

Donut Wars: Krispy Kreme plots Houston return, but is there room?

Krispy Kreme doughnuts in a box
Krispy Kreme will return to Houston with 10 new stores in the next five years.
Dunkin' Donuts, doughnuts, coffee
Dunkin Donuts has already made a big push into Houston.  Dunkin' Donuts/Facebook
River Oaks Donuts June 2013 doughnuts
But can the national chains compete with well-run single stores like River Oaks Donuts? Photo by Shelby Hodge
Shipley's kolaches and doughnuts in a box
Or Houston institution Shipley Do-Nuts? Rafael D./Twitter
Krispy Kreme doughnuts in a box
Dunkin' Donuts, doughnuts, coffee
River Oaks Donuts June 2013 doughnuts
Shipley's kolaches and doughnuts in a box

National doughnut chain Krispy Kreme has announced that it will make a return to Houston with 10 stores set to open over the next five years. The company signed an agreement with Dulce Restaurants, LLC, which already operates three locations in Dallas and has plans to open 15 more. 

"Seeing the response and admiration for Krispy Kreme in Dallas has been a rewarding experience for me and my team," said Guillermo Perales, President and CEO of Sun Holdings, LLC, in a statement. "With our plans to continue developing the Dallas market now finalized and underway, we are excited by the opportunity to expand our relationship with Krispy Kreme in Houston."

But how will Houstonians receive Krispy Kreme?

But how will Houstonians receive Krispy Kreme? The company left Houston in 2006 after previous franchisee Lone Star Doughnuts sued the company over the cost of materials, forced expansion and other disputes. Jumbles, Lone Star's attempt at rebranding the stores, quickly folded

In the meantime, Houston's doughnut market has only gotten more competitive. Local institution Shipley Do-Nuts continues to expand, and the company's diverse array of doughnuts, pastries and kolaches trumps the "more than a dozen" offerings Krispy Kreme promises to deliver. To make matters worse, Dunkin' Donuts, which mostly ignored Houston for years, is in the process of opening 50 stores across the city. 

Then there are the city's beloved single location stores, like Christy's and River Oaks Donuts, that each have their own fans

More than another chain, what Houston really needs is a new-style, creative doughnut shop like Gourdough's in Austin that offers a mix of sweet and savory options and keeps late hours. Rumors swirl periodically that such a concept is in the works, but it has yet to manifest itself. That would be cause for real excitement.   

In the meantime, a glazed Shipley, hot and fresh, remains one of Houston's best treats, and Krispy Kreme's return won't change that. 

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