Though there seems to be a steady flow of SF residents (and chefs) decamping for the sunny, cheaper-ish City of Angels, one of LA’s most iconic doughnut shops is doing just the opposite. Randy’s Donuts, the 60-year-old doughnut shop known for its 32-foot doughnut sign, is expanding to the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Berkeley, San Jose, and Palo Alto.
The classic restaurant was purchased by lawyer Mark Kelegian in 2015 for $2 million. Since then, Kelegian has begun the process of expanding the company. There are now four locations in the Los Angeles area, including Inglewood, Century City, El Segundo and Hollywood, with more corporate development planned throughout the city, and other SoCal regions; there are also deals to open multiple Randy’s in South Korea and the Philippines later this year. The company’s plans to allow franchising were announced in March; according to QSR Magazine, initial investment for a franchise ranges from $360,000 to $526,000 for an in-line (e.g. in a strip mall) location.
International interest in the doughnut chain is spurred by the original location’s prominence in popular culture, including appearances in Iron Man 2, Entourage, Futurama, and more. In January, the giant doughnut’s icon status was cemented after it was painted blue and gold in a promotion with the Rams and Nike ahead of the Super Bowl and in anticipation of a new Randy’s location in Inglewood.
Randy’s is known for its traditional style of doughnuts, from typical glazed, crullers, and old fashioneds to jelly-filled and apple fritters. The cost of doughnuts there range from $1.15 for a classic doughnut to $2.65 for a premium (like a coconut caramel chocolate raised) — a price point that Kelegian thinks will work in the chain’s favor, particularly in SF’s landscape of artisanal doughnut shops.
Though Kelegian does not yet have exact locations for his stores, his options will be limited to certain areas of San Francisco, restricted by the city’s formula retail ordinance (a chain is defined as a business with over 11 locations). Touristy areas like Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Embarcadero are all fair game, and expected destinations, according to the SF Chronicle. The expansion is still in the early stages, with openings predicted for 2020.