Dunkin' Donuts makes West Coast debut in Santa Monica

Dunkin' Donuts, the East Coast's perennial donuts and coffee chain, has made its West Coast debut in Santa Monica. On Tuesday, September 2, the chain's first California store opened on Wilshire and 12th street at five in the morning. Already a massive line had formed around the block and would remain so for the rest of the day. The great majority of customers debuting the shop were from the east coast; they were transfers from areas as diverse as Rhode Island and Chicago. Joy filled their eyes at seeing a beloved staple of many American cities finally arrive to the California shoreline.

"It's a great brand, a strong brand in the rest of the country and it was time to roll it this way," said Richard Silverstein, the main representative of the Dunkin' Donuts corporation present at the new store.

"It's a great opportunity, we love Los Angeles even though we're East Coast people," he added, while observing the endless stream of customers filing in for sweets and caffeine.

Of course Dunkin' Donuts cannot escape the fact that it has opened in pure Starbucks territory, with the iconic coffee brand on 11th, another up the street in Vons and more than six in the surrounding area. "It's a different product in a different category," explained Silverstein, "the game plan for us is to find great real estate and great opportunities. It's also a different kind of coffee."

Silverstein shared how the reception from Santa Monica's city government had been warm, with Mayor Pam O'Connor showing up early on opening day and expressing gratitude at the jobs the business will bring locally. Silverstein pointed out that Dunkin' Donuts is currently looking for other properties all over Los Angeles in order to expand.

Inside among the hectic atmosphere of the store kitchen, Director of Operations Leslie DeVictor said "it's been really great, we saw the line building already yesterday. They're really excited, a lot of them are east coasters and have been waiting for a Dunkins."

Behind the counter, workers at the front were busily filling cups with their highly coveted brew and delivering fresh steaming donuts to eager customers who had all been waiting for at least an hour. Those in the back of the restaurant were working like the Santa's elves they were, releasing pastries from their baking beds weaving through the small spaces to the front. Silverstein noted that employment for the location in Southern Californian had increased from very few to about sixty employees in two weeks.

Among them is Santa Monica College student Adrian Manuel, who just clocked in for his 4:00 P.M. shift after getting out of class during the first week of school. The 20-year-old kinesiology major says he has been with the company for three weeks and so far the best part is seeing all of the loyal guests delighted to receive the donuts he hands over.

Outside, local resident Alex Decicco was already waiting in line for an hour and stated "I came here because of my wife. We're from New England and grew up with Dunkin' Donuts, it was a morning tradition."

Most, if not all, of the visitors waiting in line during the early afternoon hours were from the east coast of the country.

Brayulio Gomez said "we are from the east coast, this is like a trademark for us. These are the best donuts and coffee, it's like having a little bit of home here. I'm from Rhode Island."

Dallen Stanford, another customer in waiting, is a native of South Africa but he too came to wait for a chance to taste Dunkin' Donuts' coffee and pastries because of his wife. While waiting for her to come back from their car he said, "We came at 4:45 in the morning but the line was 300 people long and we decided to come back because we have to be here on day one."

Stanford revealed that he never drank much coffee in South Africa until he moved to the States. He shared that even Starbucks isn't as big over there as it is in the U.S., or the Arab countries he has ventured into.

"Whenever I go to the east coast the first thing I do is find a Dunkin' Donuts and get myself a coffee, and now they're finally here. The coffee is a lot smoother; it's kind of a darker flavor," said Stanford.

Even those at the end of the line remained steadfast and persevering, determined to wait however long it takes to get a taste of their favorite east coast breakfast spot. Two girls near the end of the line, eager as ever, knowing it would take more than an hour, were determined to wait. Santa Monica resident Daniel Miranda, of New Jersey said she'd been waiting for Dunkin' Donuts to come to this coast for years.

"Every time you go home (to the east coast), Dunkin' Donuts is the best part," she said. Miranda recalled a time when she had just landed at an airport in New Jersey and saw the Dunkin' Donuts sign just outside of the customs area. She got so excited to have her coffee and manager's special, that she bolted around the line to get outside, creating a security threat, and almost getting arrested. It's all for the DD coffee.

Also waiting with Miranda, was Santa Monica resident Kristine McHugh, who had painted her nails alternating bright orange and pink in honor of the opening. The two gushed over the anticipation of the iced french vanilla latte, ham and cheese croissants and chicken biscuits not sold at all of their locations.

They both agreed that Dunkin' Donuts brings people together, just as it brought them together, two complete strangers who made a pact to hold each others' spots in line in case one had to leave.

Lines outside of Dunkin' Donuts still stretch around the block almost a week after its opening, east coasters still eager to get their DD coffee fix, and west coasters curious to see what it is that makes this seemingly simple doughnut shop such a draw.

According to the Dunkin' Donuts official website, there will be restaurant locations opening in Whittier, Modesto, Long Beach and Downey, as part of a plan to open more than 200 restaurants in California. Over time, the company plans to expand their company throughout The Golden State to more than 1,000 locations.

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