Spudnuts to close its doors

Potato donut store’s last day arriving in late December

nsspudnutcourtesywikimediacommons

Spudnuts is located on Avon Street, near downtown Charlottesville. 

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Spudnut Shop, the famous local potato doughnut store located on Avon Street across from the Belmont Bridge, announced that it will be closing its doors permanently by Dec. 30 of this year. Spudnuts, as it is affectionately called, has been a staple of the downtown area since its founding by Richard Wingfield in 1969.

Originally, Spudnuts was part of a large national chain of similar doughnut shops, but it quickly became a local institution in Charlottesville and has a huge following among locals.

After Wingfield died in 2005, his daughter Lori Fitzgerald and her husband, Mike, took up operations and have run the shop since then. Mike Fitzgerald said the decision to close was not an easy one to make.

“We’ve been here for a long long time and it’s just … things change and people change and we figured that we would make a step in another direction,” Fitzgerald said. “I feel like it will be good for the community as well, once everyone gets over the initial shock. It allows other things to come into play.”

Although the Charlottesville doughnut scene has seen several additions in recent years with the opening of stores like Duck Donuts, Miso Sweet Ramen + Donut Shop and Donut Connection, locals have expressed sadness about Spudnuts’ closing.

“I think I went through the whole cycle of tragedy from shock, to sadness, to denial, to anger, to desperation, to ‘I have to get to Spudnuts to get some [doughnuts],’” frequent customer and local musician Michael Clem said of his reaction to the closing. “[I am] just a fan and a customer and a big fan of their products. I also love the independent, low-key charm about the place which goes against the chain, cookie cutter mentality.”

Clem detailed the importance of Spudnuts to Charlottesville as a local landmark and beloved business.

“Spudnuts is a real [Charlottesville] institution. Even the landmark and the sign itself is such a focal and center location to the community between Belmont and the [Downtown] Mall,” Clem said. “Sadly, as we’ve learned in the last 10 years or so, nothing is forever and all good things come to an end.”

Although Clem said he would like to see the Fitzgeralds sell the business, he said he understands their rights as owners to simply shut down.

“I would hope they come around to the idea of selling it to someone else but it doesn't seem like they want to do that, they’re intent on closing, which is in their right,” Clem said. “It’s their right as property owners and business owners to sell their property. That’s where I have to take a step back from Mike and Lori. If they do open their door for that opportunity, I hope that someone enterprising and hardworking will step in to keep the dream alive.”

Second-year College student Amalia Garcia, who grew up in the Charlottesville area, also said she is disappointed in the news.

“Growing up here, Spudnuts was always a staple in the community and it was always a special treat to get spudnuts at school or anytime really, so I am sad to see it go,” Garcia said in a written message.

Fitzgerald said there are no plans to sell the business and reflected on his time running the shop, recalling an insight his father-in-law gave him.

“We tried to do a good job and as my father-in-law said, ‘friendliness was part of the recipe here,’” Fitzgerald said. “I always thought that was great … I just loved that the first time I heard that.”

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