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Dunkin' Donuts Is Finally Here! 

Wednesday, Jun 29 2016

After near-infinite teases and whispers, Dunkin' Donuts has returned to Northern California, years after the franchise chain pulled out of the region.

True, the newest of the 11,000 Dunkin' Donuts is in Walnut Creek (in a shopping center that's fairly close to the pedestrian-friendly downtown core, although it's going to cater mostly to drivers) but that didn't stop me. There are chains that I don't mind (Wendy's) and chains that I loathe (Quizno's) — and I love home-grown doughnut shops like Dynamo — but any residual anti-capitalist leanings vanish completely when we're talking about DD, because I love Dunkin' Donuts. It has a more emotional form of brand loyalty than anything but In-N-Out, which is probably why Starbucks are few and far between in Massachusetts, Dunkin’ Donuts’ home state.

How devoted am I to Dunkin' Donuts? Why, slip away from a busy workday to take BART to Walnut Creek and then bike a mile-and-a-half on a 97-degree day devotion. (In my defense, I edited several stories on the train, and filed a blog post using DD's wifi, but still.) Clearly other people felt similarly: It was a press-only day, but at least five people banged on the door, hoping for a Coolatta and a Boston Kreme.

"For me, either you've had Dunkin' Donuts before and you're from New Jersey or Chicago, or you have the other side of it where people have never heard of Dunkin'," franchisee Matt Cobo said. "For me, it's the coffee. The doughnuts are great, but it's the coffee."

"It's in our name," he added. "I get it, but we're so much more than a doughnut shop."

Citing the new frozen drinks and smoothies — along with breakfast sandwiches like the Sausage Egg and Cheese — as things the shop will offer, Cobo makes a point of hammering home how fresh the coffee is. Dunkin' Donuts doesn't grind the beans ahead of time, and the two-minute brewing cycle is repeated three times per hour, so your coffee is never more than 18 minutes old. On top of that, free internet and comfy chairs make for more of a coffeehouse atmosphere than the average doughnut joint.

Cobo signed a development agreement with Dunkin' Donuts for 18 restaurants over the next eight years, all in Contra Costa County. Tracking down available real estate is always the biggest challenge, but he claims that the buzz has been sufficient that "now, landlords are calling us."

But will there be any Dunkin' Donuts in San Francisco? Absolutely: a location at 575 Market, above Montgomery Station, is looking like a done deal. (Cobo and his publicists agreed to speak about it on the record, anyway.)

So there you have it: It's coming. When Hurricane Sandy left my parents without power for 10 days, the only place they could get caffeinated was a Dunkin' Donuts half a mile away. Just because I die inside (and want to scream, "It's not for me!") whenever I order milk-and-two-Equals for my mom whenever I'm home doesn't mean it's not the best regular-joe cup of joe in the world, and it won't ever make me love this chain any less. Time to make the Donuts!


About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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