Might As Well Call It McVoodoo

Speaking of local eateries…

I read yesterday that Voodoo Doughnut is expanding outside of Oregon. Sorry, Jess – they’re not coming to Wisconsin. But they are opening a location in Denver this fall. And I’ve gotta say, the news does not thrill me.

I have nothing against the Mile High City. I’m quite fond of it, as a matter of fact. Home to my favorite NFL team (go, Broncos!). Great scenery. Fun vibe. In fact, Tara and I are planning a trip there this October. We’re planning on catching a Broncos game – a lifelong dream for me. And maybe touring the haunted Stanley Hotel in the Rockies. Our itinerary is undecided yet, but one thing is certain: we won’t be stopping at Voodoo Doughnut.

I’m not a hater. Voodoo Doughnut is awesome. They put the bacon maple bar on the doughnut map. What bugs me is, they’re quintessentially Portland. A local institution. I often read Portland-themed blogs, and have come across many a post from people visiting here on vacation. There are two spots they always go to: Powell’s Books, and Voodoo Doughnut. Both are Portland icons. Take them away, plop them down somewhere else, and they’re no longer as special. They don’t define the city they way they used to. 

New York New York Las Vegas
I thought it was surrounded by water…?

What if somebody wanted to recreate the Statue of Liberty? And build it in, let’s say, Las Vegas? That would be an outrage, right?

Oh. Wait a minute…

But I stand by my point. And kind of feel a bit hypocritical wishing that In-N-Out Burger and White Castle would open up franchises out here (although in those cases, there are a lot more than just three locations like Voodoo has). I don’t want a Voodoo Doughnut on every corner. Hell, I was kind of irritated when they opened a shop in Eugene, and that’s just two hours down Interstate 5. If you can get a Grape Ape or a Tangfastic or a Triple Chocolate Penetration or a Gay Bar or a Maple Blazer Blunt in Denver – or in San Francisco or New York or Los Angeles someday, as the article alludes to – then it’s no longer a Portland institution. You might as well change the name to McVoodoo.

It’s bad enough that Stumptown Coffee was sold to a bunch of New Yorkers, and Andy Ricker (Pok Pok and a number of other notable Portland eateries) is opening up versions of his restaurants in New York. But don’t water down our beloved Voodoo! Keep Portland weird. Don’t make other cities weird.

Keep PORTLAND weird!
Keep PORTLAND weird!

What’s next? Bunk Sandwiches in Chicago? Pine State Biscuits in Atlanta? Boke Bowl in Sioux City? Say it ain’t so!

A city needs something to point to and say, that’s ours. For ten years, in Portland that has been Voodoo Doughnut. Now, the best we can say is, that’s ours…and also theirs. It’s the end of an era. The “magic in the hole” feels a little less magical this morning.

But such is life.

On a related note, I am slightly changing the focus of my blog. I’ve already updated the About Me page to reflect this, and changed my tagline to Peace, Love & Wordiness in the Pacific NorthwestThat’s the heart of the change. I love this place so much, I want it to take a starring role in the blog, instead of being relegated to occasionally recurring guest. I’ll still write about all my usual topics – writing, pop culture, my upcoming nuptials – but I want to add more stuff about Portland and the Pacific Northwest. This post is an excellent example. I still hope to appeal to a wide audience, but I hope locals especially find the blog and start reading. I’m not looking to become the definitive voice of the Pacific Northwest or anything, but…

…well, actually, that sounds like a great thing to aspire to, after all. I wouldn’t be upset with a title like that.

So, thanks for continuing to follow along, regardless of where you live. My readers range from as far away as Ecuador to as close as the other side of the bed. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. You guys rock.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

16 thoughts on “Might As Well Call It McVoodoo

  1. First, I love your new blog look, Mark! Also, your new ABOUT ME page is AWESOME!

    Funny you just posted about Portland, because I just recently read a blog post where the author said that Portland was at the top of list of favorite cites for MANY reasons. But her main reason was that is was WEIRD and she LOVED that!

    What you’ve described here is sorta what NYC went through back in the 80’s and 90’s. I lived there during the 70’s and early 80’s, when NYC had a dirty, gritty, raw feel to it (which I LOVED). However, little by little it’s becoming homogenized.

    Yet, it’s still my favorite city on the east coast and will always be.

    Like you, I love weird. And one of these days I HAVE to get to Portland to check it out because I know I will love it.


    1. Thanks for the link, Ron. What impressed me most was that her Top 5 list didn’t include any of the typical must-see touristy attractions (like, umm, Voodoo Doughnut and Powell’s Books).

      I was in NYC in 1976 and remember the raw grittiness of the city back then. I was a little kid, and it both scared and exhilarated me!


  2. How did you know my initial reading of this post was like GASP! Smile! -> Open weeping…

    I hear ya. I love Portland, and I’d be upset too. Except that means they’re creeping east, and Madison is a pretty cool town. And I’m willing to drive 2 1/2 hours for a maple bacon bar. Just saying, Cat Daddy. If you’re reading this… 😀


  3. I feel for you, but I want a voodoo donut. We just got of first (Louisiana-good) Popeye’s, and I adore their “shrimp craver”. (Mmm. Just spicy enough.)

    The key, I think is to keep the recipes EXACTLY the same, but play up the uniqueness of the original store/location as a kind of potential pillgrimage destination. That way, everybody wins.


    1. We have a Popeye’s right down the street from where I work. I agree, it’s good stuff – just the right amount of spice.

      I agree that they should at least attempt to play up the uniqueness of the original location. Maybe NOT hold weddings at the Denver location.


  4. We were watching Grimm last night and one of the scenes had an outside view of a Voodoo Doughnut shop in it. Which was cool to me. I’ve never been to one with living in Alberta of course we don’t have one, but was telling hubby about the place from reading your blog. I said to him we have to go to Portland and try out Voodoo Doughnut. My Great Aunt lived there her entire life after getting married, unfortunately I never visited her there.
    I agree with you it should stay unique and not expand anymore but hey, I don’t own the business. I like unique stores, restaurants etc there fun because there unique and not a big chain across North America or the world for that matter. Love your blog, thanks for the endless education I receive on it. Keep up the great work!..


    1. Ahh, yes. I love “Grimm” and I remember an episode or two with Voodoo Doughnut. It’s definitely worth stopping by and visiting if you ever do make it out to the Rose City! I’m anti-chain too, despite my last post. 🙂

      Thank you for the kind words. Glad I’m able to entertain you!


  5. I get you on this. It would be like opening a Pike’s Public Market somewhere…like Miami or Boston or even Fargo. It just wouldn’t be the same.


    1. Yes, exactly! It would never work in Fargo. They’d have to throw bison instead of fish, for one thing.

      Having said that, Portland is talking about building a Pike Place-style market along the waterfront in the near future. I’d be thrilled if that happened.


      1. I can see where you would be. But it would be a “Pike Place-style” market and not another Pike Place Market. There is a difference. VooDoo Doughnuts should keep it VooDoo and name the out-of-state location a different name. Like I was telling David tonight…when you think of Seattle, two things pretty much pop into your head…The Space Needle and Pike’s Market. They are iconic but only iconic for Seattle. VooDoo Doughnuts should be the same.


  6. Sure, be selfish with your Voodoo Doughnut shops! And all your other great eateries! I like the new direction you’re planning on taking with your blog. I love reading about where other people live! And of course I want to know about your upcoming nuptials.


Add Your Two Cents!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: