Fern Garner likes telling the story of his first experience as manager at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop on Plank Road.

The construction crew had cleared out, and Garner was given the keys to do an inspection of the new building. That's when it happened.

"I turned on the 'hot light' light by accident," he said. "I commute from New Orleans every day, and when I was leaving, I looked outside and there were about 15 cars that had already pulled in."

That's how eager folks have been for the iconic doughnut shop to reopen at 5504 Plank Road — the only Krispy Kreme in Baton Rouge.

The 1960s-era shop had been closed almost a year. The original building was razed to make way for the new building, which opens May 26 to serve up hot doughnuts of every stripe — glazed, iced, filled, cake, chocolate, and, yes, sprinkles.

"We'll have a lot of new products that we can't wait for everybody to see," Garner said. "None of our recipes have changed. We have the original glazed doughnuts, which is our favorite, but we've also added some filled varieties and assortments. Also, we have mini doughnuts that you haven't seen yet. They're the smaller version of our original glazed."

But it might be a little while before you can look across those gleaming glass cases of doughnut after doughnut after doughnut.

"We're only open for drive-thru right now," Garner said. "We're following the federal, state and local guidelines, and we're also phasing ourselves in company-wide to adhere to our responsibilities for the safety of our team and guests because of COVID-19. … We'll open it as soon as we get a followup from state and local government and from our corporate office. We'll make adjustments as needed. Our dining-in hours will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday." 

Now here's the upside: The drive-thru window is open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year.

"The only day we're closed is Christmas," Garner said.

When the shop's doors finally open, you will be able to eat your favorite Krispy Kreme doughnuts in a much larger cafe.

"Our dining room is bigger — way bigger," Garner said. "From what I've heard, the dining room in the old building was relatively small. Dine-in was about two or three tables. We've drastically opened up the dining experience, and we've also added some key features to make the dining experience for the guests more enjoyable."

So, what's new?

"Tables that can seat about 23 guests, and a doughnut display that looks almost as if it's an endless supply of doughnuts," Garner said. "We've also added a see-through window for the doughnut processing experience, so you can see our team design the doughnuts."

There are digital menu boards and a new over-sized hot light.

In the meantime, drive-thru customers will be randomly surprised with a range of offers, including free treats during this first week of the grand opening.

You can also order online or through the Krispy Kreme app for pick-up or delivery within 10 miles of the shop’s location or by visiting krispykreme.com

“We are so grateful for the patience, understanding and excitement that our fans and guests throughout Baton Rouge have shown while we designed and built this incredible new shop to serve them,” said Tim Mossor, district manager. “We’re confident that when they visit, they’ll be thrilled with the experience, including melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts.”

So now when you see that bright light on, you'll know the shop's 80 workers are serving up hot doughnuts.

Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com