Top Pot Doughnuts Adding Cocktails, Expanding to NYC
By Leslie Kelly
November 21, 2013
What would make Top Pot Doughnuts even better? Cocktails!
That’s right, the flagship store on Fifth Avenue is going to add drinks to its lineup soon, offering a extra incentive to come in during evening hours. There will also be special dessert-like donuts, which will be pulled from the pages of the Top Pot cookbook. Elegant goodies like the lemon ricotta bismark with toasted hazelnuts.
We recently chatted with co-founder Mark Klebeck, who talked about the past and exciting future of Top Pot including launching stores in New York City in 2014.
Zagat: How did Top Pot get started?
Mark Klebeck: Well, I didn’t want to wait tables anymore, so I got out of the restaurant business and started working in construction back in the '90s. My brother, Michael, and I taught ourselves how to build doing a remodel on our mother’s house. We bought a bunch of tools and just winged it. Later, when Michael and partners started Bauhaus, and then Zeitgeist in Pioneer Square. One of the partners bowed out of Zeitgeist and I stepped in. That was actually the precursor to Top Spot, which was actually going to be Top Spot until the sign maker lost our “S”.
Zagat: When did the first Top Pot open?
MK: We were actually kind of notorious for renting out places we were thinking of developing, but they were really places where we’d store our tools. The original store on Summit was a former Chinese laundry. Michael found this donut-making apparatus he found at Dick’s Restaurant Supply made by Belshaw Brothers. They’re like the Rolls Royce of donut making equipment and it’s located right here, in Kent. We hired Frank Burklund, who’s father started the old Ravenna Bakery, his grandfather from Norway was a baker, too. He had a lot of expertise, but it was a slow-go process at first. We didn’t have donut for a month after we first opened in 2002. Then, we had a line out the door, so we opened this flagship store in 2003.
Zagat: When did Top Pot get so huge?
MK: We had a six-year period where we sold to Starbucks. We were in 14,000 stores. That’s a lot of donuts and I spent much of that time on the road, helping bakeries around the country make our donut. It was good exposure nationally, even on a global level. It was neat and quite the eye-opener. Now, we’re in QFCs and Ralph’s in California.
Zagat: Any more expansion plans?
MK: We’re in the process of working out a franchise deal to open 10-20 Top Pots in New York City. Probably in 2014. It was originally going to be this year, but we’ve been challenged by the price of real estate. Eventually, we’re also looking to add more stores in Seattle, venturing down south.
Zagat: What else is on your very full plate?
MK: I’m working on a documentary about this aged eggnog they make at Sun Liquor, hoping to get it into the Food Film Fest, which I’d love to get to come to Seattle. I’m also in this instrumental surf music band called the King of Hawaii and we’re going to put out a new CD next year, the first in 15 years. We've been together since 1996. We've opened for the Beach Boys and for Neko Case.
Zagat: Very cool! Finally, do you dunk your donuts? And what’s your favorite?
MK: I do both. This time of year, I love an unglazed pumpkin old-fashioned.