10 Years of Recovery: Tuscaloosa’s Krispy Kreme Built Back Bigger Than Before
This story is airing as part of WVUA 23’s “Faces of the Storm: 10 Years Later.” Watch it on WVUA 23 at 7 and 9 p.m. April 27, and at 8 p.m. May 1. The show will be available on our YouTube channel beginning April 28.
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Lacey Beasley
Krispy Kreme is well-known for its delicious, yeasty doughnuts and neon signs advertising their “hot and ready” status. But Tuscaloosa’s Krispy Kreme was among the hundreds of businesses decimated by the April 27, 2011 tornado that ripped right through the heart of town.
But while that “hot and ready” promise wound up leveled like all the buildings around its former McFarland Boulevard location, it came back bigger and better than ever in almost the exact same spot.
Evan Smith, who’s owned Tuscaloosa’s Krispy Kreme for the past eight years, said the doughnut purveyor has always been part of his family. His grandfather brought the first Krispy Kreme to Tuscaloosa, and Smith has been making doughnuts there ever since he was 12.
Smith said he was devastated when the place his grandfather built was reduced to rubble in 2011, but that only pushed him harder in his rebuilding efforts.
“We are thankful to be in this same spot that my grandfather built in 1980 here,”
Smith said. “We’ve been in Tuscaloosa since 1960, and we’re just blessed.”
On that fateful day, former Krispy Kreme employee Marty Hubbard was tending to his duties as usual. He had no clue what was coming because he didn’t give the weather much attention.
When the tornado struck, Hubbard said he huddled in the back room with other employees as the roof lifted off the building.
Today, he’s a lot more aware of weather forecasts.
“Now I’m on top of it,” Hubbard said. “I’m listening to whatever news reporter I can at the time. I’m paying attention.”
Ten years later, Smith and Hubbard are aware of how lucky they are. And Hubbard said he isn’t taking his life for granted.
“It definitely puts your priorities in check when you go through a near-death experience like that,” he said.
For Smith, he’s thankful Tuscaloosa is a big fan of hot doughnuts.
“I want to thank everyone for supporting us and enjoying Krispy Kreme,” Smith said. “Nothing’s better than a hot, glazed doughnut.”
Can’t argue with that.