Promenade Comeback: New Places Open for Doughnuts, Iced Cream


This weekend, two new trendy chain places to get sweets will open on the Third Street Promenade: Duck Donuts and Mad Scientist Ice Cream (which actually did a ‘surprise’ soft opening yesterday) in the Kitchen United Food Hall (1315 3rd Street).

For those not familiar with the Kitchen United brand, there’s a series of restaurants in the same “food hall” and customers can order from all of the places at once at a digital kiosk.. This allows families or groups with different tastes access to a lot of different types of food all at once, without having to go to different restaurants or have to wait in different lines. 

“We’re excited to expand our California presence with the opening of our newest location in Santa Monica, the first Duck Donuts in Los Angeles County,” said Gary Kopel with Duck Donuts franchising. “With a variety of food establishments to choose from, including warm, made-to-order donuts and coffee from Duck Donuts, the Kitchen United MIX food hall caters to any foodie’s needs.”

The opening of the Food Hall in general and these chains specifically is part of the desert comeback story happening at the Promenade. Hammered by the twin crises impacting retail of a thriving online marketplace and decreased foot traffic resulting from the pandemic, the once iconic outdoor mall is dotted with shuttered businesses. 

But as the world continues its COVID comeback, the Promenade is seeing more places open. Heck, Mad Scientist is the second iced cream place to open in the last couple months joining McConnel’s Fine Ice Cream that opened in September. The Promenade could also see fast food restaurants join its mix as recent changes to city code will allow chains such as McDonalds or Fatburgers to open at some point in the future.

Both chains are known for making orders on demand and having splashy colors and memorable flavor combinations that make ordering and consuming them a treat. The parent in me cringes at the amount of sugar that my children will be imbibing.

While Mad Scientist Iced Cream is a national brand, the appearance of Duck Donuts in Santa Monica was a surprise to me. My mother lived in Duck, NC when the first Duck Donuts opened in 2006, the first donut shop in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s been a stop on my family’s annual vacation to the OBX for nearly two decades, and it feels unusual to see it franchised into my backyard.

In addition to Duck Donuts and Mad Scientist, the Promenade’s food hall includes:

  • Burger&Sons 
  • Cookie Chaos
  • Farmesa
  • Pokaii
  • Salad

In the next couple of weeks, new restaurants will join this mix including:

  • gogo ya
  • mr roni
  • Ms. Clucks Deluxe Chicken & Dumplings
  • Pomodòro
  • Santa Monica Brew Works
Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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