The crush of eager diners at Tuesday's debut of the Popeyes Louisiana Chicken on Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo brought to mind a similar scene: Oct. 3, 2000, the day Krispy Kreme opened its doors on Niagara Falls Boulevard in the Town of Tonawanda.
As a Buffalo News story from that day reported:
Those who parked at tire stores, outfitters and banks in nearby plazas and walked to the shop found a line of at least 60 people snaked outside the door to the shop.
"The company hired an off-duty cop to handle traffic in their lot, and we had the midnight shift put two cars out there when they opened at 5:30 a.m.," said Town of Tonawanda Assistant Chief Robert Rowland. "We didn't want anyone to plow into a car waiting to turn in."
A little over a week later, Krispy Kreme manager Dave Benfanti said of his shop's crazed debut: "We never expected the opening to be this big." Throngs of people clogged traffic on Niagara Falls Boulevard and filled the lots of nearby stores.
The opening even inspired then-food editor Janice Okun to conduct a taste test on donuts from area shops to see which was tops. (The winner? Krispy Kreme.) "Is there anyone who hasn't heard about the hundreds of cars at the Krispy Kreme drive-through window and about the waits of 45 minutes or longer?" Okun wrote.
But financial difficulties plagued the company, and Western New York's infatuation with Krispy Kreme didn't last. The end came Sept. 13, 2008, the day the chain shuttered its remaining shop in the Buffalo area. Then-Suburban Editor Bruce Andriatch penned a farewell to those tasty fried treats:
Maybe the beginning of the end came when you got that second place in Cheektowaga. You had seemed so happy in the Town of Tonawanda, but obviously something was missing. If only I had known sooner.
Now it's too late. You're gone, leaving in your wake a trail of tears and pants that no longer fit.
Life will go on. Something new and unhealthy will come along. But as long as I live, I fear that my heart will always have one thing in common with an original glazed: a hole that will never be filled.
A fried-chicken-shaped hole, perhaps?