Dunkin’ Donuts Returns to Bay Area after 18-Year ‘Vacation’

Dunkin Donuts (Mike Mozart / Flickr / CC)
Mike Mozart / Flickr / CC
Newport Beach, CA

Dunkin’ Donuts is preparing to open its first Bay Area franchise in late June after being driven out of California 18 years ago due to stiff competition.

The beloved Canton, Massachusetts-based company opened its first California location in Santa Monica last September and was flooded by “Munchkin” lovers that were willing to stand in long lines. It has already opened 18 more stores in Southern California.

Franchisee Mat Cobo is opening the first Bay Area locations with 12 Dunkin’ Donuts stores in Contra Costa County over the next couple of years. The official grand opening for its Walnut Creek location is set for Wednesday, June 22. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony, as well as free food and drinks, plus special giveaways.

Breitbart News reported last summer that Dunkin’ Donuts, after an “18 year “vacation,” is returning to California with a vengeance by announcing plans to build 1,000 stores in the state over time. Known for all the old favorites, “Dunkies” in the rest of the U.S. now enjoys killer treats like Snickerdoodle Lattes and fake Cronuts.

Dunkin’ Donuts was chased out of the state and closed its last 15 California stores in the late 1990s. Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. PR’s explanation of why they left: “The company operated so few stores that the brand was not able to develop and prosper in the state.”

The real giant-killer was the large number of Cambodian donut shops that “saturated” the state. According to commenter “Bulavinka” on the “Chowhound” blog, “the donut market was flooded by these mostly immigrant/family-run operations, thereby crowding out just about any competitors whose operating margins were higher than these mom & pop businesses.”

Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s former company, led a wildly successful 2005 leveraged buyout of Dunkin’ Donuts with the Carlyle Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners. Dunkin’ Donuts is now the world’s leading baked goods and coffee chain. It sells 52 varieties of donuts and more than a dozen coffee beverages, and an array of bagels, breakfast sandwiches and baked goods.

There are more than 11,300 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants worldwide – more than 8,000 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in 41 states in the U.S. plus the District of Columbia, and more than 3,200 international restaurants in 36 countries. The company serves more than 3 million customers a day.

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. has also entered into a new franchising agreement with Shiva Developments to build nine locations in San Francisco.

Grant Benson, vice president of global franchising and business development for Dunkin’ Brands, commented, “We are thrilled these existing franchisees have chosen to expand their presence in the California market, and know these new restaurants will satisfy a growing consumer demand for Dunkin’ Donuts in the Fresno and San Francisco communities they will serve.”

Although the standard 1950s baked fare is always available, the stores now offer the iced coffee, flavored coffees, lattes, Dunkin’ Donuts K-Cup® pods, Coolatta® frozen drinks, and DDSMART® menu featuring treats, referred to as “better-for-you items.”