The most famous contender in Portland’s competitive doughnut scene is coming to Chicago for the first time, gearing up to bestow its wild and wacky fried dough delights upon Randolph Restaurant Row.
Voodoo Doughnut, an iconic Oregon-based chain that helped usher in a nationwide doughnut craze with creations like the chocolate peanut butter Old Dirty Bastard and the stoner-friendly Maple Blazer Blunt, announced its plans to open in Chicago’s tourist- and restaurant-heavy West Loop neighborhood on Wednesday in a Facebook post.
“Anyone recently notice a vibrant pink storefront in the Fulton Market District?” reps write. “Well, hold onto your hats, because Voodoo Doughnut is headed to the Windy City SOON!”
The post was accompanied by an altered photo of the former Umami Burger at 945 W. Randolph Street now bathed in the brand’s Pepto-Bismol hue. While the photo shows the Voodoo Doughnut name on the building — there’s no signage, just pink. It’s looking like a mid-November opening with a Friday, November 17 target. That put it before Black Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day, which is Thursday, November 23. The doughnut shops are known to stay open late night.
The Chicago location joins sibling spots in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and a sole California outlet inside the Universal Orlando Resort. A Dallas location is upcoming and would give the chain 21 shops. The West Loop and Fulton Market area already have doughnut titans like Stan’s Donuts, Do-Rite Donuts, and Firecakes. Apparently, Voodoo is also looking to open shops in other Chicago neighborhoods.
Voodoo Doughnuts, co-founded by pals Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon, opened its first location in 2003. Its quirky, irreverent style (and signature pink boxes) was novel at the time and the shop became a staple stop for national food media figures visiting Portland. The company opened a second location in 2008 and has only ramped up its expansion in the years since with backing from San Francisco-based private equity firm Fundamental Capital. It even cracked the pop culture code, earning a reference on The Simpsons in 2012.
It hasn’t all been sugar and frosting for Voodoo workers, who in 2022 won an election to join Doughnut Workers United (DWU), a federally recognized union. Much like the extended labor battle at Colectivo Coffee in Chicago and Wisconsin, the fight at Voodoo dragged on for years after management declined to voluntarily recognize the union. The union alleged that management engaged in union-busting tactics, including the firing of seven workers who walked out on the job in 2021 during a record-breaking heatwave.
Reps haven’t responded to a request for more details, apparently they don’t want to take any thunder away from an opening in Dallas, which is debuting first.
Voodoo Doughnut Chicago, 945 W. Randolph Street, opening mid-November.