America’s No. 1 donut chain opens its first location in Tulare County with long lines in the lobby and drive-thru
By Reggie Ellis
VISALIA – Dunkin’ opened in Visalia last week, marking the first location in Tulare County for America’s No. 1 donut chain.
If there was any question if locals were eagerly awaiting the opening of Tulare County’s first Dunkin’ the long lines zig zagging through the lobby and cars in the drive-thru backing up onto Mooney Boulevard certainly answered them. The location makes an appropriate dozen for franchise owner Aharon Aminpour who said people started showing up at 2 a.m., more than three hours before he opened the doors at 5 a.m. The first 50 people received Dunkin’ gift cards, paper hats and tote bags. The demand has remained strong at the store in the week following the opening.
“The response has been fantastic,” Aminpour said. “We know this was going to be a prime location and we are excited for Visalia to start running on Dunkin’.”
Dieago Minnis spent most of the morning at Dunkin’s debut. He started by bringing his wife at 6 a.m. and then returned at 10 a.m. to meet his sister-in-law, neither of which had ever experienced Dunkin’ Donuts. Minnis, a facility supervisor with the Kaweah Delta Medical Foundation, is originally from Massachusetts, where founder Bill Rosenberg opened the first location in Quincy, Mass. in 1950.
“I just came back from Massachusetts where there is a Dunkin’ on every corner,” said Minnis, who moved to Visalia in 2005. “When I found out there wasn’t any Dunkin’s here I almost moved back. I was stoked to find out one was finally opening.”
Minnis said Dunkin’ has a cult following on the East Coast similar to Starbucks on the West Coast. It also has its own language. Unlike Starbucks, where tall means small, Dunkin’s small is 16 ounces, the same as Starbucks grande (medium) size. An “extra extra” means additional pours and pumps of cream and sugar and “extra light” means extra cream.
“I grew up on Dunkin’ and its great to have one so close,” Minnis said. “I’ll have to let my wife know to up my allowance for coffee!”
Ana Barton of Farmersville said she had never been to a Dunkin’ and was a little surprised by the long line.
“I came to see what all of the hype is about,” Barton said. “People are really excited.”
Formally known as Dunkin’ Donuts, the chain shortened the name to Dunkin’ in the fall of 2018 to better represent the growing demand for its coffee drinks and not just as a complement to its donuts. Recent initiatives have included a simplified menu, a greater emphasis on beverages like Cold Brew Coffee, Nitro Coffee and Iced Teas, the introduction of unique products like Donut Fries, an increasing emphasis on On-the-Go Mobile Ordering, and most importantly, the introduction of Dunkin’s next generation design concept. The Visalia store is also one of Dunkin’s new flexible layouts to fit different buildings and designed to transform the company into the premier beverage-led, on-the-go brand. The next generation store design offers key in-store elements include an eight-headed tap system for cold beverages encouraging crew members to serve guests like bartenders, a glass bakery case putting donuts in the forefront within arm’s reach of guests, and more prominent and engaging mobile-order pick up areas, as well as the first-ever mobile order drive-thru lane to allow mobile users to speed past the line.
Aminpour said he has already hired about 50 employees and plans on hiring more. Most of Aminpour’s franchises are in the Los Angeles area but he plans to develop multiple restaurants in the Valley including locations in Tulare, Fresno and Clovis. Dunkin’ has already popped up in Madera, Hanford, and two in Bakersfield.
The opening of these restaurants is part of a larger plan to open approximately 200 to 250 new restaurants each year over the next three years. In the fourth quarter, Dunkin’ Brands franchisees and licensees opened 146 net new restaurants globally. This included 76 net new Dunkin’ U.S. locations, 62 Baskin-Robbins International locations, and 26 Dunkin’ International locations, offset by net closures of 18 Baskin-Robbins U.S. locations. Additionally, Dunkin’ U.S. franchisees remodeled 40 restaurants and Baskin-Robbins U.S. franchisees remodeled 11 restaurants during the quarter.
Founded in 1950, Dunkin’ is America’s favorite all-day, everyday stop for coffee and baked goods. Dunkin’ is a market leader in the hot and iced coffee, donut, bagel and muffin categories. Dunkin’ has earned a No. 1 ranking for customer loyalty in the coffee category by Brand Keys for 13 years running. The company has more than 13,000 restaurants in 44 countries worldwide. Based in Canton, Mass., Dunkin’ is part of the Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: DNKN) family of companies which also includes more than 8,000 Baskin-Robbins restaurants. For more information, visit www.DunkinDonuts.com.