Years after departing San Diego, Dunkin' Donuts is finally gearing up to return, bringing its signature donuts and coffee to counties throughout Southern California.
The company, which hopes to open as many as 360 new U.S. restaurants this year, is now recruiting franchisees for stores in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Ventura and Orange counties.
The plan is to open 150 Southern California locations over a two-year period.
Those stores, however, would not likely open until 2015. Currently, the only Dunkin' Brands outlet in all of Southern California is located on the marine base in Camp Pendleton. It opened last year.
The company is also interested in identifying food service operators for a wide range of non-traditional venues, including colleges and universities, casinos, military bases, supermarkets, airports and travel centers.
"We like Southern California, but we've had this very disciplined approach of growing contiguously across the country," said Nigel Travis, Dunkin' Donuts president. "We've been in Phoenix and Las Vegas, so the jump to Southern California is an easy one."
In October, the company secured a franchisee to run a distribution center in Phoenix, which also made an expansion into Southern California a logical move, Travis added.
He believes that a doughnut-focused franchise can prevail, in part, because the brand has gained a growing foothold in California with its bagged coffee sold in supermarkets. Offering breakfast sandwiches, Travis said, is another draw for patrons.
As an incentive for prospective franchisees, Dunkin' Donuts plans to offer reduced royalty fees in the early years and a $10,000 local store marketing contribution by the company for those that qualify.
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