Yes, the Krispy Kreme in Pigeon Forge is open again [2022]

the krispy kreme building in pigeon forge tn

After a brief hiatus, the Krispy Kreme in Pigeon Forge is back open (photo by Alaina O'Neal/

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Editor’s note: Yes, the Krispy Kreme is back open in Pigeon Forge at the time of this writing.

Dec. 1, 2001 was one of the best nights of my life. 

The fifth-ranked Tennessee Vols were a massive, double-digit underdog to second-ranked Florida. The team was led by Steve Spurrier, an East Tennessee native from Johnson City and it made our blood boil. 

I disliked the Gators. In retrospect, UT shouldn’t have been that much of an underdog because that Vols team was loaded with talent. It was maybe the last truly great team of Phillip Fulmer’s coaching career. 

Fulmer was at his best when he could play the underdog card. He took that team to Gainesville and jumped on the Gators who battled back to take the lead at the half. With a trip to the SEC championship on the line, the Vols battled back – running the ball down Florida’s throats as little tailback Travis Stephens went absolutely wild. 

Florida scored a late touchdown to make it interesting. We went crazy when the Vols won. 

The call went out for Vol fans to meet the team as it arrived back at the University of Tennessee campus. 

And of course, we had to go. 

It was late when they finally arrived to the waiting pandemonium. We cheered. We sang. Somebody, regrettably in hindsight, handed out roses because the National Championship was going to be held at the Rose Bowl that year.

When it was over, it was after midnight and I had adrenaline and euphoria rushing through my veins. 

I looked at my wife Leslie and made the call: It was time for fresh Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

Krispy Kreme Sign in Nashville, TN
When the hot light is on, fresh doughnuts are coming down the line inside the Krispy Kreme store (photo by James R. Martin/

When did Krispy Kreme first open? 

Krispy Kreme is an institution. Founded by a New Orleans chef working in North Carolina in 1937, a Krispy Kreme doughnut is a gift from heaven.

When the hot light is lit, indicating hot, fresh doughnuts are available, Krispy Kreme shops might be the best restaurants in the South. 

At that time, Krispy Kreme was growing from a Southern sensation to a national one. The brand was expanding outside the region and bringing its awesome doughnut experience to places that frankly needed the delicious flavor boost of a long john topped with creamy chocolate icing and filled with rich Bavarian custard. 

With the exception of clubs, bars and Waffle House, Knoxville tends to close down around midnight.

So, as we pulled up to the Krispy Kreme on Kingston Pike, there was a long line. But the hot sign was lit and we were young and energetic and had nothing but time to wait for a tasty treat.

We got some fresh original glazed doughnuts and I’m sure some fancier varieties. Anything with smooth chocolate icing is always a hit and I enjoy a doughnut with zesty lemon filling.

We’d beaten Florida. We had hot doughnuts. We were Knoxville royalty that night. 

Read Also: 6 crazy desserts you have to try on your next trip to the Smokies

Krispy Kreme Pigeon Forge
Krispy Kreme (pictured in Sevierville in 2021) is at least temporarily closed (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

The rise and fall of Krispy Kreme  

The rapid expansion of the 90s led to the Krispy Kreme company going public, coincidentally in 2001. And things looked rosy for a couple of years. 

There were Krispy Kreme locations everywhere but then the market took a dramatic turn. The company posted a loss in May of 2004, blaming the low-carb trend of the Atkins diet. Analysts, however, noted rival purveyor Dunkin Donuts hadn’t suffered the same way.

As a result, investors began questioning if Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, much like that 2001 Vols team, had gotten a little too cocky. Perhaps they flew too close to the sun.

The company suffered a blow that it never quite recovered from, opening the door for companies like Dunkin to come South. 

Does Tennessee have Krispy Kreme?

Yes. They’re still here but you see them more often sold in grocery stores than at Krispy Kreme stores. And even Krispy Kreme fans will tell you that they are not quite the same when they’re not hot and fresh.

In East Tennessee, there are currently two remaining Krispy Kreme Doughnut shops in Knoxville, one in Johnson City and one in Kingsport. There’s also one across the state line in Asheville.

There were once two locations in Sevier County, in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. However, only the Pigeon Forge location is currently open. The location is at 4074 Parkway, Pigeon Forge.

Fresh Made Original Glazed Donuts Krispy Kreme
Krispy Kreme fresh doughnuts with the delicious original glaze in a box (photo by kyozstorage_stock/

Is Krispy Kreme closed in Pigeon Forge TN?

As of this writing, the Krispy Kreme location on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge is open again.

Krispy Kreme Pigeon Forge did temporarily close earlier this year for a variety of reasons, I suspect.

A lot of Sevier County restaurants have been hit hard by labor shortages as the world recovers from the last couple of years. When I visited the location recently, a sign on the door said lobby hours would be affected by staff shortages.

So what else led to the temporary closure?

The location seems to be doing good business.

But overall, I would say that it seems Krispy Kreme experienced a misunderstanding of the market going all the way back to 2004.

When analysts pointed to Dunkin and said it hadn’t been affected by the low carb trend, I think that ignores the fact that while they appear to be in competition, Dunkin and Krispy Kreme were two very different business models. 

Despite the name, Dunkin is a coffee place that served doughnuts. Krispy Kreme is a doughnut place that served coffee. A coffee place is better equipped to survive a low-carb push than a doughnut place. 

a printed sign on the door informs guests that the lobby to krispy kreme will close early due to staffing shortages
The store is a popular location, but staffing shortages still plague the area (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

Is Krispy Kreme going out of business?

I’ll tell you a quick story. A few years after Krispy Kreme took a shot in the broadside, Dunkin started expanding South. They opened a massively successful location up about three minutes from my house in East Morristown, TN.

I was at an event with the franchise owner who explained the corporate execs were flabbergasted. The Morristown location had turned the Dunkin business model upside down, selling shocking amounts of doughnuts but less coffee than expected. Dunkin was sending corporate people down to study the trend and see if it could be applied elsewhere. 

Krispy Kreme had built its business in a doughnut-appreciating culture. It wasn’t equipped to deal with that. 

Krispy Kreme is not going out of business, but the market has changed. 

Over the years, the coffee culture has grown in the South. Places like Starbucks and Dunkin and dozens of other smaller coffee places will also sell doughnuts and pastries in wide and yummy varieties.

However, there’s less social stigma that goes with getting a coffee and a doughnut than going to get a doughnut and maybe a coffee.

A woman holds a coffee cup in front of krispy kreme
Krispy Kreme also serves coffee, but it’s best known for the doughnuts (photo by Alaina O’Neal/

What should I order at Krispy Kreme? 

Something hot and fresh, anything with the flavorful chocolate icing which brings an added burst of scrumptiousness. If you go in for such a thing, try the classic cake doughnut.

Donuts that have apple filling or raspberry filling are also delicious.

But if you like something with fruit filling, try mom’s apple pie or the berry lover’s delight. The cinnamon sugar with more than a light dusting of both is also an excellent choice. 

Where else can I get a doughnut in the Smokies?

If you’re craving a quality doughnut that’s not sold at a coffee place, get yourself to Gatlinburg to the Donut Friar, a Sevier County institution.

However, if you’re on the road and see a Krispy Kreme and the hot light is lit? Go for it. 

Read Also: Donut Friar Gatlinburg: How the punny donut shop became Smokies famous

Have you been back to Krispy Kreme since it reopened? Let us know in the comments!

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John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for LLC – the parent company of and

17 thoughts on “Yes, the Krispy Kreme in Pigeon Forge is open again [2022]”

  1. Oh that’s horrible news! I loved stopping at that location when I was in town to visit family. Sad to hear it’s gone.

  2. Funny how Krispy Kreme was always lined up around the building and in the road in Pigeon Forge. You had to sit in traffic for a while. Dunkin never has enough doughnuts or choices and when they do they are stale. Bring back Krispy Kreme!!

  3. I do. We would always go the night before Thanksgiving and get some. Very disappointed that it’s closed

  4. I am so upset that Krispy Kreme closed in pigeon forge. We go 4 to 5 times a year and we ALWAYS went to Krispy Kreme and got 2 plus dozen donuts for our stay. Dunkin’ doesn’t come close to Krispy Kreme. Krispy Kreme is 100 times better. I don’t like Dunkin’ Donuts at all. Please open Krispy Kreme back up. We need you.

  5. No. The quality of the product isn’t what it used to be. Most people I know can’t and won’t sit down and eat a dozen doughnuts at a time. So, if you don’t eat the whole box at 1 time you are left with doughnuts that get cold. That solidifies the grease in the doughnuts which makes the flavor unappetizing at best. The doughnuts of old had a much lighter feel and taste without greasy after affects. (The last time I ate KK my tongue felt like it had a layer of grease on it for hours). I would (and usually do) buy just the filled doughnuts. But, the company has become so skimpy on fillings that you mainly get just bread and icing. I don’t care for that either. I really miss the days when Krispy Kreme was sincerely good! I still have memories of a doughnut my local KK had when I was growing up and wish they would bring it back! It was a chocolate cake doughnut with a mound of (tasted like meringue) on top that was dipped in chocolate. It was one of their specialty doughnuts, so more expensive, but oh so good!!!!!!!! It was worth the money to me.

  6. I need my Krispy cream donuts back…
    They were so good , better than Duncan donuts 🍩 😪

  7. I am so sorry that they closed the KK in Sevierville and PF wish they had left at least one open I really miss them. I have several bogo free cards that I will not be able to use now but at least it help the organization the other donut shops in this area run out of donuts because they are shipped in not made fresh

  8. If I can’t have a KK doughnut I don’t want any. Krispy Kreme

    is the very best

  9. I read that a personal hardship closed down the two
    Kk donuts in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge area. Miss them.

  10. Krispy cream are the best. A day or two old just pop one in microwave for 7 sec and nearly as good as new.

  11. Not only have their doughnuts gone down hill, but so has their service. And as far as the swill they serve as coffee, well it’s just that SWILL.

  12. This makes me so sad. We always stay in Pigeon Forge so we can get hot donuts each morning. Trips to the Smokies won’t be the same.

  13. Please bring back KK donuts in Pigeon Forge, TN. You can’t beat them. Dunkin donuts are terrible.

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