THEN: Spudnut Coffee Shop, opened 1969; closed December 2016.
NOW: Quality Pie, opened July 2018.
It’s fair to say Spudnut Coffee Shop, formerly located at 309 Avon St. in Belmont, was a C’ville institution. And when the owners announced its closure in late 2016, it was a sad day for potato flour donut lovers everywhere.
The original Spudnuts was founded more than 2,000 miles away in Salt Lake City in 1940 by brothers Al and Bob Pelton. In 1946, the pair started franchising locations nationwide.
Richard Wingfield and his wife Fay opened Charlottesville’s branch in 1969—his daughter Lori Fitzgerald and husband Mike would keep the legacy going when they took over the shop in 2005. While Lori said the donut bakery was still doing well as a business as of late 2016, she expressed a desire to move on. “Sometimes you feel like it’s time to do something else,” she told C-VILLE Weekly.
Before Spudnuts, in the early 20th century, a dwelling occupied the site where the current one-story commercial building sits, according to city records. The “utilitarian” but still iconic white concrete block and brick structure that we see now was built around 1961, after the Belmont Bridge was completed.
Quality Pie, purveyors of baked goods, sandwiches, and small plates (and sometimes donut-shaped beignets—#spiritofspudnuts), took over the old Spudnuts space in summer 2018, led by chef Tomas Rahal, formerly of Mas Tapas.
Spudnuts had more than 600 outlets in North America across its lifespan. But when the Charlottesville shop closed, it was one of the brand’s last remaining locations on the East Coast.