Iconic Tri-Cities Business Sold
For three quarters of a century countless Tri-Cities have started their day with a sweet treat (or two) and a cup of coffee from a family owned and operated Richland eatery. Now that beloved icon will have new ownership.
In 1948 Barlow Ghirardo and Jerry Bell purchased the franchise rights for a business they opened in the Richland Wye. That purchase also came with 100 sacks of spudnut flour. In 1950 the Spudnut Shop moved to the Uptown Shopping Center, where it has called home ever since.
The Spudnut shop has been in the Ghirardo family ever since. Ghirardo's daughter, and Bell's niece, Val Driver and her husband Doug currently own and operate what residents affectionally call "Spudnuts". After 53 years of being involved with the iconic bakery, she decided it was time to move on.
Who is buying it?
The new co-owners of the Spudnut Shop will be Ryan Pierson (RHS Class of 96) and Mike Bishop (RHS Class of 97). Both men are born and raised in Richland and have deep ties to the community. They bought Spudnuts with the intention of keeping it as it is and changing nothing about the iconic bakery and restaurant.
Some Spudnut History
First, DO NOT call it a doughnut. Spudnuts are made from potato flour and taste different than your traditional flour donuts. Spudnuts actually began as a franchise operation out of Salt Lake City, Utah in 1946. Ghirardo and Bell paid $50 to acquire the franchise rights in 1948 and operated as a wholesale business until moving to the Uptown in 1950.
The Spudnut franchise peaked toward the end of the 1960's when it was the largest "doughnut" franchise in America. By the end of the 1970's, however, the chain had come crashing to a halt after a bad investment by the then parent company's owner.
With the parent company gone, the franchises had to figure out what to do. By the end of the 1980's only 28 were left. It is estimated there are 35 currently operating in nine states. There were 600 plus over the course of the company's history.
The franchise may be gone but the Richland icon is still running and will continue to do so under the new owners. I hope that Val and her husband Doug enjoy their retirement and thank you for ensuring the Spudnut Shop remains in our community. I wish Ryan and Mike the best of luck and thank them for keeping and continuing the legacy of this beloved business.
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Gallery Credit: Cooper Fox (B98.5) and Cameron (The Breeze 103.9)