Flint, MI—Keysa Smith, owner of Spectacular Spudz in Flint Farmers’ Market, plans to open a brick-and-mortar location for her baked potato eatery this October.

The entrepreneur said she hopes to welcome guests to her 600 South Saginaw Street restaurant on October 25, 2021, a date which would mark exactly six years after she first welcomed customers to her booth at the farmers’ market.

“Everyone thought I was crazy,” Smith said, thinking back on starting Spectacular Spudz in 2015. “It took us about a year to get the recipes right,” she laughed. “You should’ve seen those broccoli that first week.”

A Spectacular Spudz employee tops off a baked potato with green onions on Aug. 5, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

After a year of experimenting and learning, however, Smith said she and her mother—“the incomparable Valerie Smith” as Smith referred to her—had perfected their potato recipes down to the homemade alfredo sauce on the “Shrimp Alfredo” spud. By 2019, Smith was featured in an Inc. Magazine article and talking about franchising.

But while Smith’s plan to transition to a new space and grow her concept began roughly two years ago, motivation was difficult to find after both her mother and father passed away during the pandemic. 

“It’s all part of God’s plan,” she said, sitting at one of the three black barstools that flank the dining counter at her farmers’ market location.

Smith’s late mother was also her kitchen manager at Spectacular Spudz. Smith said she’s disappointed her mom won’t be part of the new space, but she’s happy she was part of the current one.

“She got to see that dream manifest,” Smith said. “And she got to help that dream.” 

The entrepreneur’s next dream, her soon-to-be Saginaw Street location, will have different hours, more seating, “a customer service focus,” and new menu items.

“We can only do so much here,” Smith said, gesturing behind her to the prep area of her market location. “We’ve never had a full blown kitchen at the market.” 

The Spectacular Spudz crew works through a busy day at the Flint Farmer’s Market on Aug. 5, 2021. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

While the black chalkboard menu that hangs above the current Spectacular Spudz features items like the “Meat Lovers” (steak, bacon, chicken, shrimp, cheddar, scallions, sour cream) and the “Sweet Spud” (pecans, brown sugar, honey butter), Smith said she’s considering adding potato options that are made to order, like salmon and asparagus, at her next location.

“I don’t like a lot of stuff precooked,” she said. “So (in the new space) we’ll really be able to hone in on the potato and accommodate many other crowds.”

Smith said that she hopes those crowds will one day include international travelers, calling her new downtown location her “blueprint” for franchising Spectacular Spudz beyond the borders of Michigan and even the United States. 

“I want to get us to where we’re at the airport in Japan,” Smith said. “That’s how big the vision is.”

For now, Smith continues to build out her new space on Saginaw while also helping guests every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at her Flint Farmers’ Market location.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....

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