Johnny Doughnuts built itself on serving fluffy doughnuts in seasonal flavors from food trucks that shuttled between neighborhoods. But now with permanent locations to park those old fashioneds, it’s all about establishing rapport with neighbors says Craig Blum, Johnny Doughnuts owner and founder. And with the planned closure of the Hayes Valley spot in May, what happened next is close to a San Francisco real estate miracle: It took just one month to turn around from closing up shop to snagging the lease on a prime Pacific Heights location, near the corner of Fillmore and California streets.
Now, after a few months of renovation, Johnny Doughnuts prepares to open the doors at its latest — and only — San Francisco location. Blum says the company struggled to connect with the Hayes Valley neighborhood, despite the fact that he says the store performed well. In this new location, however, Blum hopes things will go differently. “It’s a very food-centric neighborhood,” Blum says. “People are out walking around, they’re excited, they’re looking for stuff to do and there’s a lot of families. It just really allows us to connect with the community a little bit better.”
Already, Blum has taken to considering the new Pacific Heights location the local chain’s flagship store; as such, there will be some slight differences between this location and others. They’re working once again with Equator Coffee — whose coffee they use at other locations and at pop-up events like Outside Lands — but will offer a new barista bar menu with drinks exclusive to the new shop. If the drinks become popular enough, it’s quite possible you’ll see the new items at other locations, but for now, the first place to preview them is Pacific Heights.
Of course, the shop will have plenty of doughnuts on hand for the opening, as well as the ever-popular crodough, that hybrid of a layered, flaky croissant, and a fried doughnut. There are some newer offerings, such as a blackberry cake doughnut and a raspberry fritter topped with flaky sea salt. And since it is most definitely fall, some autumnal doughnuts will be in the mix, such as a pumpkin brown butter number. “That thing will knock your socks off,” Blum adds.
The new store still shares much of the design DNA as the others. The Johnny Doughnuts team tapped Julie Babin Design once again on this location, like the previous spots. It’s a clean space that puts the doughnuts and coffee front and center. One thing to note with this location is there won’t be any sit-down seating options inside — “It’s all takeout,” Blum says — but there are plans to potentially add outdoor seating, like benches, to enjoy the neighborhood scenery. Even if you can’t hang inside the shop, Blum considers the store’s welcoming attitude a draw for customers in its own right. “It’s the people that are inside that’s going to create the difference, which is really a lot about what Johnny Doughnuts is about: We are about community, and doughnuts are kind of our transference device,” Blum says.
Johnny Doughnuts (2404 California Street) opens Saturday, October 29, and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.