Meet me at the Orange Dinosaur.
A strange request, perhaps. But just about anyone from Saugus — or the North Shore, for that matter — knows exactly where to go.
And so it was with that instruction that co-owner Paul Delios took a meeting that led to him opening the third outlet of the celebrated Kane’s Donuts, at the site of the former mini golf course along Route 1 once guarded by the brightly colored tyrannosaur.
The opening of the 3,500-square-foot shop to customers, expected on March 1, has its origins at a charity event back in the summer of 2016. That’s when Delios was approached by Michael Barsamian, who was redeveloping the 13-acre Saugus site and looking for a signature retail attraction to rival the 6,000-pound fiberglass and concrete dinosaur.
Barsamian sidled up to Delios and said, “You need me.”
The signature honey-dipped glazed doughnuts are the kind of indulgences people drive miles to get — especially because for years Kane’s had just the one location, on Lincoln Avenue in Saugus. In three decades, the Delios family added just one location — in the Financial District in Boston, nearly four years ago — as well as a pop-up shop in Chestnut Hill that was open for one month in 2016.
Delios was initially skeptical of Barsamian. He had brushed aside hundreds of other offers over the years. Barsamian persisted, and Delios relented that day, although the only free time he had was 5 a.m. on a Sunday, between the midnight production run and the church rush. They agreed to meet at the site.
There, with the approximately 15-foot-high dinosaur looking down and cars rushing by, Delios was hooked. He said Barsamian and his team offered a favorable construction package to woo Kane’s to that location.
“It was a deal I couldn’t refuse,” Delios said. “They did all the construction. I just had to design it.”
The decor of the new store reflects elements from the original eatery, Delios said, as well as the Boston location. The new shop might also eat into sales at the old one, to some extent, though Delios hopes to attract new customers to the Route 1 location.
Plus, the new bakery will now make the doughnuts for the Boston location. That solves a logistical headache at the Lincoln Avenue shop involving a neighbor upset at the early morning traffic from delivering the doughnuts to Boston. Delios said he initially wasn’t looking to open another store, but the threat of a neighbor calling Town Hall to complain persuaded him.
“The last thing I want to do is interrupt business at the Boston location,” Delios said. “This allowed me to quell their fears.”
And for Barsamian, having a big sign out front for the Kane’s shop gives his development a tasty bit of name recognition. The first set of apartments in the Essex Landing development opened last summer, with nearly all of the 39 one-bedroom units leased by now, he said. The development will eventually have nine buildings, with nearly 300 apartments, two hotels, a six-story garage, shops, and that famous dinosaur. (Kane’s is tucked behind another building, and the dinosaur has been slightly repositioned.) Barsamian and his development partner, Mike Touchette, want to capitalize on the planned opening in June of the Encore Boston Harbor casino in nearby Everett; the developers plan to run regular shuttles between the two sites.
Barsamian is savoring the concept of crowds lining up each morning at his project.
“People who are going to Boston, they’ll buy three to five dozen doughnuts at a whack,” he said. “I have friends in California that have had Kane’s doughnuts. They said when it opens, they want me to Federal Express Kane’s doughnuts to L.A.”
Los Angeles may have plenty of doughnut places of its own, but it’s hard to imagine any are under the watchful eye of a giant orange reptile.Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.