In the beginning of 2020, Blue Star Donuts was a household name in Portland. With locations across the greater Portland area and in Los Angeles, Blue Star became more well-known than Voodoo Doughnuts, tourists from across the country grabbing boxes of brioche rings topped with blueberry bourbon basil glaze.
Today, the doughnut empire has shrunk dramatically: After permanently closing the shop’s Northwest 23rd location in early May, Blue Star has announced that three more shops will close in the Portland area — including the doughnut shop’s flashy flagship in downtown Portland. “It’s no secret that the independent restaurant industry is hanging by a thread right now, and we’re no exception,” founder Katie Poppe says. “Our model depended almost entirely on in-store sales, and the mandated closures March 17th wiped those off the board — but not the bills. At a certain point the call has to be made to stop the hemorrhaging because we’ll never be able to dig ourselves out again.”
The opening of the downtown headquarters in 2018 was a big deal for the doughnut brand, started by restaurateurs Poppe and Micah Camden in 2012 (Camden, Poppe’s ex-husband, eventually left the Blue Star brand). The doughnut shop was significantly larger than the original downtown location, with 5,000 square feet and an open-air commissary kitchen. “It’s kind of a dream come true,” Poppe told the Oregonian before the flagship opened.
In addition to the downtown shop, the locations in Multnomah Village and Progress Ridge will not reopen either. At the moment, Blue Star is down to just one open Portland location, at SE Division; the PDX airport, South Waterfront, and North Portland locations all remain temporarily closed. It’s unclear when — or if — they’ll reopen. “So much depends on being able to pivot, on being able to resurrect sales, on successfully navigating all these new regulations and protecting the health and safety of our staff and customers — it just takes time,” Poppe says. “But hey, we’re scrappy and doing our damnedest to figure it out with what we have to work with.”
For now, Poppe wants Portland to continue to focus on the Black Lives Matter protests. “This is peanuts compared to long-overdue social upheaval happening right now,” she says. “We hope people can focus on the good fight out there, and we’ll be here focusing on some donut fuel.”
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Dearest donut loves, Heavy hearts all around, again, as we share the news of some additional closures in the Blue Star world. We are writing to announce the permanent closures of our shops in Multnomah Village, Progress Ridge, and our flagship shop in Downtown Portland. ——————————— At this time we have one location open in LA (Venice) and one location open in Portland (Division). The timeline for the remaining store openings is unclear. Since March 17th, the handful of folks we have left have been fighting so hard to figure out how to navigate this ever-changing future with what we have to work with. We are absolutely grieving for what we were, and what we’ve lost, but we are not giving up! ———————————— We appreciate everyone who’s been reaching out, wondering about their neighborhood shop, sending love. It’s hard to have all the answers right now, and we are incredibly grateful for your continued support and patience as we move through this. ——————————— Multnomah Village - has been a magical community since day one! We know you’ll miss the all-star team of Emely, Ana, Charlie, Violet (and Jack!) as much as we do. We’ll miss the wonderful people at @multnomahvillagepdx , the art center, our friends at @spielmanbagels , and all of our regulars who spent countless blissful donut moments with us. Thank you!. ▪️ Progress Ridge - you showed up for gourmet donuts! We had an amazing team...shout out to Ricky, Makena, Christian, Kylee, and Jai. We’ll miss our neighbor friends @thebarbers99 , @phonamprogressridge @littlebigburger @thegrowlerie . And we’ll miss all of our regulars including @droop10 and @chiefhasarrived . Thank you!!. ▪️ Downtown Portland was a long-time dream for us. We finally built a proper chef’s counter for @chefstephaniethornton , filmed her outtakes for @foodnetwork’s Chopped, released our first CBD donut w/ @ronwyden & @repblumenauer , best NDD ever with art and @chappdx, threw parties with our sweet friends @domaineserene and @portlandcider , created donuts with @droop10 and @chefchriscosentino . And were constantly inspired by our incredible team, we all grew so much in this space. Thank you, we love you all!! ❤️ ❤️
Updated June 10, 2020, at 1:20 p.m.
This story has been updated to include comments from Blue Star founder and CEO Katie Poppe.
• Blue Star Donuts [Official]
• Blue Star Donuts closing announcement [Instagram]
• The Portland Restaurants That Have Permanently Closed During the COVID-19 Pandemic [EPDX]
• Blue Star’s Giant Doughnut Headquarters Will Open Next Week [EPDX]
• Blue Star Donuts moves to massive new downtown Portland flagship [O]