The popular chain opens its first Oregon outpost in Clackamas

Oregonians are about to find out how a hot, gooey doughnut can cause so much fuss.

Krispy Kreme, maker of wildly popular off-the-machine doughnuts, was scheduled to open its first Oregon store at 5:30 a.m. today near Clackamas Town Center.

If past performance is any indication, the place should be mobbed all day long.

'If people aren't camped out for the opening, it would be the first time it ever happened,' said Gerard Centioli, president and chief executive officer of KremeWorks LLC, a Seattle-based operation licensed by parent company Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., to oversee the chain's Pacific Northwest expansion.

'It's difficult to describe the passion that people have for this product,' said Centioli, mentioning a customer in Spokane who showed up at 8 p.m. Sunday for a 5:30 a.m. Tuesday opening.

For the past week, workers at the 4,400-square-foot store at 9950 S.E. 82nd Ave. in Clackamas have been making thousands of 'practice' Krispy Kremes, expecting throngs to besiege the store today.

Josh Goodman Pincetich, the store's manager, said the store's voice mail box has been filled by callers asking about the opening.

Some said they planned to camp out overnight to be among the first in line; others intended to sleep in their cars to be first into the drive-through, Pincetich said.

Pincetich said he expects the store to make more than 4,000 sales today.

So what's the fuss?

'You have to taste one to understand,' said Pincetich, who grew up eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts in Vienna, Va. 'You can't explain it logically.'

The company calls it 'doughnut theater,' which begins when customers walk into the store and are able to watch doughnuts being made on a machine that produces about 220 dozen doughnuts an hour.

As they walk in, customers are handed a gooey, hot, original glazed doughnut, Krispy Kreme's signature pastry and by far the most popular of the chain's 15 varieties.

Krispy Kreme outfits each of its stores with $2.2 million worth of doughnut-making equipment. Recently, each shop added a beverage bar with a line of Krispy Kreme coffees.

It's all part of an expansion plan for the 66-year-old company (NYSE:KKD), which got its start in Winston-Salem, N.C., and still is based there.

Renowned for decades throughout the Southeast and East Coast, Krispy Kreme began expanding in recent years into the western United States, Canada and Australia.

Currently, there are 290 Krispy Kreme stores in 38 states, according to the company.

Krispy Kreme entered the Pacific Northwest market in October 2001, when KremeWorks opened a store in Issaquah, Wash. Since then, Krispy Kreme has opened six of 10 stores planned for Washington.

Pincetich said the 82nd Avenue store is the first of nine planned for Oregon, with five to be located in the Portland metropolitan area. The next store to open will be in Beaverton on Aug. 26.

The store will be open daily from 5:30 a.m. to midnight. The drive-through will be open 24 hours a day.

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