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‘Next generation’ Dunkin’ Donuts debuts in Bay Area — what’s inside?

East Coast chain Dunkin’ Donuts is continuing its Bay Area expansion — this time with a new “next-generation concept” store that is focused mostly on coffee.

The store opened Tuesday at 4383 Clayton Road to much fanfare. Dan Wheeler, vice president of strategic initiatives and innovation for Dunkin’ Donuts parent company Dunkin’ Brands, said about 50 people were waiting in line when the store opened at 5 a.m. Later in the morning, city employees, Chamber of Commerce representatives, Mayor Edi Birsan and others gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This next-generation store is a complete transformation for our brand,” Wheeler said Tuesday.

The Concord store — simply called “Dunkin” — is among the first of Dunkin’ Brands’ new concept stores open in the country. One has already opened in Massachusetts, and others are slated for New York and other locations.

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Part of the transformation, besides the shortened name, includes a new store format with eight taps for cold brew coffee and iced tea. Its bakery display is front-and-center in a clear case (different than many older Dunkin’ Donuts stores, where the donuts are on display behind the cash registers), and there is a section for picking up mobile orders, which customers can submit via an app on their phone.

If mobile orders and cold brew on tap sound similar to what coffee giants like Starbucks and Peet’s have been offering — it’s because they are. These days, Dunkin’ competes more with the likes of them than with the local doughnut shop.

Wheeler describes the “next-gen” store as part of the brand’s effort of being “an on-the-go, beverage-led brand.” That means being an efficient place for people’s morning coffee ritual — hence the mobile order station and the drive-thru, which is also part of the new Concord store site.

The Concord store is the second Dunkin’ Donuts to land in Contra Costa County, after franchise owner Matt Cobo opened a location in Walnut Creek in 2016 — the Bay Area’s first Dunkin’ Donuts presence after some stores in the area opened and closed decades ago.

Birsan spoke excitedly about the Concord store’s opening, noting at Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony that for a New Yorker like himself, Dunkin’ Donuts was iconic.

“Any store that sold doughnuts was a Dunkin’ Donuts” to him and his wife, he said, adding that when they lived on the East Coast, his family would regularly ask him to “go out and get Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Now in Concord, that ritual can continue, he said. “I can actually go out and get Dunkin’ Donuts.”

East Coast transplants know it well, but as Dunkin’ Donuts has grown its store count in the Bay Area, Californians are developing their own familiarity with the brand.

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Josephine Medina and Alfredo Calangian recently moved from Daly City to Concord and were happy to see the opening of the new Dunkin’ store. They had been to Dunkin’ Donuts stores in the Bay Area and in the Philippines, and they enjoy the coffee and doughnuts.

“Our son will want to come,” Medina said of planning future regular stops at the store. She liked the new pickup station for mobile orders, which she said will be a “convenient” option for morning coffee and breakfast stops.

Cobo is planning other new stores for Contra Costa County and is looking for potential space in Pleasant Hill, Brentwood, Hercules, Pinole and other locations. Dunkin’ Donuts, a subsidiary of Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Brands, Inc., has upward of 12,600 restaurants worldwide.

By Annie Sciacca, East Bay Times

(c)2018 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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