ATLANTA – A historic Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store in Atlanta owned by basketball star Shaquille O'Neal that dates back to the mid-1960s was engulfed in flames early Wednesday, heavily damaging the structure.
Atlanta fire crews responded to the iconic restaurant on Ponce de Leon Avenue shortly after midnight, news outlets reported. Video posted on social media showed raging flames.
The Midtown store opened in 1965 and O’Neal bought it in 2016, news outlets reported.
“I hope no one was hurt and we will bounce back better than ever,” O'Neal said in a statement.
“We and our shop partner, Shaquille O’Neal, are extremely thankful that no one was injured and for the rapid response and outstanding work of the local fire and police departments," said Jack Farmer, who represents Krispy Kreme.
“We are working with authorities to assess the damage and are uncertain at this point how long the shop will be closed," he added. “However, we plan to reopen the shop as soon as possible! In the meantime, our Ponce team members will continue to receive full pay while we identify and offer them roles at other area Krispy Kreme shops."
Battalion Chief Douglas Hatcher said firefighters saved most of the building after the fire started in the back. No injuries were reported. Hatcher said the cause of the fire was under investigation.
The Midtown Krispy Kreme was one of the first locations established outside the company's main bases of operations in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.
After Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral in April 1968, the Krispy Kreme fed mourners by donating 150 dozen donuts to Atlanta churches.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the store was more than 60 years old. It opened in 1965.