Krispy Kreme is returning to Billings, building a new store on Central Avenue Rimrock Mall property where the World West theater once stood, according to a city permit filed by the mall's owner.

Construction of the $327,652 building is underway at 2520 Central Ave. by Starwood Retail Properties, which owns Rimrock.

The stand-alone doughnut shop helps fill a long-stated goal of Rimrock of attracting an eatery to frontage property surrounding the mall.

"We are very pleased at the planned construction of a new tenant. We razed the old movie theater last December to make way for new tenants, and we're on schedule with our overall redevelopment plan for Rimrock," said mall spokesman Daron Olson in a written statement. 

He did not immediately identify the franchise owner or when the shop will open. 

For Krispy Kreme, it's a return to the Billings market under new ownership following the dramatic rise and crash of the company. 

Krispy Kreme opened its original Billings franchise in 2004 at 2850 King Ave. W. More than 100 people stood in line awaiting the first doughnuts served.

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based firm launched in 1937 and exploded in the 1990s when people flocked to stores to watch workers bake and glaze the doughnuts in assembly lines.

The company underwent massive growth in the early 2000s after it became publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Pressure from shareholders led to overbuilding, saturation of markets in larger cities and the eventual shuttering of hundreds of locations, including stores in Billings and Missoula.

Last year, a German investment firm, JAB Beech, completed a $1.35 billion takeover of Krispy Kreme, returning the company to private ownership.

Krispy Kreme also operates stores in Missoula and Kalispell.

Starwood commissioned the demolition of the former theater building last December. It had been vacant for nearly 20 years since the Wynnsong Theater opened a few hundred feet away.

A second building, the former CJ’s restaurant space, was also torn down, and mall officials have stated they are searching for a new tenant there.

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Business reporter for The Billings Gazette.