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Voodoo Doughnut bakes up plans for new Seattle sweet spot

After spending the past few years expanding beyond its humble Portland beginnings, Voodoo Doughnut is finally baking up plans to set up shop in Seattle. Is Seattle ready for the line?

"It's worth the wait, Voodoo is worth the wait," Voodoo Doughnut CEO Chris Schultz said. "Whatever your preconceived notions are of Voodoo, if you haven't been, this is your chance. We're bringing one close to you. Make it your own."

"We still invent doughnuts that, perhaps, you shake your head, scratch your head, but at the end of they day you're like, 'That's actually pretty good.'"

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Seattle is not starving for doughnuts. There are plenty of shops in the city, from Top Pot to Mighty-O. You can't really find a bad doughnut in town. Still, Schutlz said that, for years, folks have most often asked about Seattle when it comes to opening new locations.

Voodoo's new Seattle shop will be its 22nd location. It's slated for the corner of Pine Street and Minor Avenue, according to paperwork filed with the city this month. It's a sweet spot between Capitol Hill and the convention center. Voodoo estimates it will hire 75 people to cover its 24/7 business hours.

Voodoo plans to spend as much as $500,000 to remodel the space. The current proposal indicates that two restaurant spaces will be combined into a single shop. It will mirror the appearance of its Old Town location in Portland — a walkthrough for customers up front, featuring tasty treats, merch, and coffee. Most of the space behind the scenes will be dedicated to doughnut production. Basically, the opposite of a mullet — party up front, all business in the back.

The set up is designed for the flow of a line — customers in one door, they make an order, and out the other door. From its founding in Portland, that long line through Voodoo Doughnut has been part of the experience.

Why all the buzz around Voodoo Doughnut?

Voodoo Doughnut initially catered to Portland's late night / early morning bar crowd (aka weirdos) when founders Cat Daddy and Tres Shannon opened up in 2003. With business hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., it rarely operated in daylight. Voodoo has maintained this personality through all its changes over the years.

If you were still out and about after the bars closed, a doughnut made with Pepto-Bismol might have sounded like a good idea. That was the kind of treat offered at the shop in the early days. Also, a Nyquil doughnut, but these have been off the menu for many years because of, you know, the law.

"The federal government came by and said, 'Hey, you know that little thing on the side of the bottle, that's not a recommendation, you can't put medicine in food,'" Schultz said.

That brand of unexpected creativity propelled Voodoo's popularity. It offers doughnuts topped with cereal, like Captain Crunch. One doughnut is just called "Dirt," and comes with Oreo crumbles on top. There's a penis doughnut, which is exactly what it sounds like.

"We remember the day when Cat Daddy brought bacon with him to work ... brought the bacon to make for himself. He put it top of a maple bar, and 'Damn that's good.'"

Of course, there is the voodoo doughnut, which is in the shape of a person and has a pretzel stick stabbed into it.

"We also did an oyster doughnut ... when someone ordered the doughnut, we had this ingenious idea, we would run down to the oyster bar, get an oyster and bring it back," Schultz said. "Most recently, we did a ramen doughnut, with crushed ramen on top of maple icing with some siracha. It tasted like it sounds, but we did it for 420 and it was fun."

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Voodoo became a sort of local hero in Portland; a shop that expressed a Rose City vibe. Patrons could grab a doughnut, buy some underwear, watch a band play in the cramped space, and get married all in one stop.

Eventually, celebrities came (Anthony Bourdain made a special trip for a bacon maple bar). Voodoo's rising popularity made it increasingly difficult to simply stop by. It started operating in the daylight. But that Voodoo vibe persisted.

"We live by this mantra, 'Perfect is boring' ... there's a little attitude that comes with Voodoo," Schultz said. "From the names of our doughnuts, the music in the stores."

In more recent years, the shop has expanded with new locations in Texas and Arizona, also Chicago, Denver, and Nashville. You can find Voodoo along the CityWalk at Universal Studios in Hollywood and Orlando. And soon, Seattle.

"There's a little attitude in Boulder, Colorado where we opened a store. We just opened a store in Tempe, Arizona. What kind of attitude can Tempe have? I'll tell you, Tempe's got a little attitude. I like it. I think we need to embrace more of that. Being authentic is super important in today's world."

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