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Dunkin’ Donuts opens doors

Kevin Noonan | Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fast-food breakfast giant Dunkin’ Donuts opened its first South Bend location last week, and the restaurant is already seeing success.

The South Bend franchise of the multibillion dollar coffee and donut chain, located on State Road 933 three miles north of campus, opened its doors Nov. 26, just down the street from its main competitor, Starbucks.

But the competition has not slowed down the restaurant’s initial success. Store manager Beth Blaylock said the location has even exceeded expectations.

“It’s much bigger than we expected. It’s going great though. … We’ve definitely surpassed what we thought it would be,” she said. “We have lines to the door pretty much every day. On Saturday we literally had lines out the door, people standing outside waiting to come in.”

The owners of the franchise also own the neighboring Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, but although the experience helps in the management of the store, Baylock said it did not provide much data to use in forecasting the restaurants’ success.

“[The franchise owners] own a store in Kalamazoo, so we were based a little bit off of that, but we didn’t really have any idea of how it was going to be,” Blaylock said.

Though this is the first Dunkin’ Donuts in the South Bend-Mishawaka area, some Notre Dame students who know the restaurant from their hometowns eagerly anticipated the opening.

“I’m really excited about the Dunkin Donuts opening. Dunkin Donuts was my drink of high school,” junior Maria Skorcz said. “We used to go through the drive-through in the morning before school. I’m excited to get back to my glory days of coffee drinking.”

Thanks to the corporation’s well-known brand, some students who have never experienced the restaurant before are interested in the opportunity to try out a new coffee and breakfast place.

“I’m a big coffee drinker, and we don’t have Dunkin’ Donuts in Minnesota, so I’m really excited to try their drinks and see how they compare to Starbucks,” junior Elliot Badar said.

Dunkin Donuts’ website states the chain is the No. 1 coffee-by-the-cup retailer in America. Though there is a Starbucks across the parking lot, Blaylock said the franchise is not concerned about the competition.

“I think that our customer service is going to bring a lot of people over, and our product mix is just different enough and the atmosphere and the attitude is different enough that I think that there’s room for both of us,” she said. “But I think that right now we’re definitely the busier of the two.”