Top Pot Doughnuts moves to Eastside

Local pair brings treats to Bellevue

The first time Starbucks’ chairman Howard Schultz bought a dozen Top Pot Doughnuts, co-founder Mark Klebeck was flattered. The Seattle-based doughnut and coffee shop had been open for only one year.

A few days later, Schultz returned for more.

By the third time around, Schultz struck up a conversation with one of the managers and shared his interest in carrying the doughnuts in Starbucks stores around the country. In 2005, the doughnuts appeared in 260 Starbucks locations.

A short three years later, the Top Pot label and famous hand-forged doughnuts can be found in more than 7,500 Starbucks locations in all 50 states and throughout Canada. Starbucks carries the Top Pot signature doughnut, the glazed old-fashioned as well as the apple fritter, vanilla cake and chocolate old-fashioned.

Now, Top Pot Doughnuts is expanding to the Eastside with its fifth retail location set to open near downtown Bellevue. The Bellevue location will be the second largest Top Pot Doughnuts, and baking will take place on site in what Klebeck referred to as the company’s flagship store for the Eastside.

The Reporter sat down with Klebeck to discuss the company’s serendipitous beginnings, soaring growth and what sets Top Pot Doughnuts apart from the rest.

How did Top Pot come about?

Klebeck: My brother, Michael, myself and Joel Radin started the company in 2002. We wanted to open our own coffee shop and put a spin on doughnuts and do more of a gourmet item. At that point, Top Pot was born and we started out with a total of eight employees at the first cafe on Capital Hill (609 Summit Avenue East).

What does the name Top Pot mean?

Klebeck: We had found this old neon sign from a Chinese restaurant in Rainier Valley, called Top Spot, and it makes this apex with the “S” in the center and we decided we were going to call our store Top Spot Doughnuts. When we went to have the sign refurbished, we had it loaded in the back of a truck and we were barreling down I-5 and the “S” blew off of the sign. So we were left with just Top Pot. It was very serendipitous the way things kind of worked out.

What makes Top Pot unique?

Klebeck: One of the things that sets our doughnuts apart is that we use nothing but quality ingredients. All of the doughnuts are trans fat-free and we use pure ingredients. Everything is done by hand. All the icings are put on by hand, and there’s a lot of care and attention put into making each and every doughnut.

What about your coffee?

Klebeck: Our coffee is our own brand. We went through a six-month period of cupping after cupping and we proudly roasted our own for almost six years. Our small little roaster is in the downtown Seattle store on Fifth Avenue and we roast over 1,000 pounds a week. We do a drip coffee blend, an espresso blend, a decaf and a signature that rotates every six months.

Tell me about your selection of doughnuts.

Klebeck: We feature about 40 to 45 different choices. We’re not based on just one type of doughnut. We produce old-fashioned, bars and fritters that are cut by hand. We also have an excellent variety of filled doughnuts such as a Valley Girl Lemon Doughnut, a raspberry-filled and a Chocolate Sand Castle, which is a chocolate devil’s food cake doughnut with cinnamon sugar coating.

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