By STEVEN JUPITER
BRANDON—After years of anticipation, the Dunkin’ Donuts in downtown Brandon finally opened on Monday, September 18. Local fans of Dunks donuts and coffee no longer need to travel to Midd or Rutland to get their fix. And judging from the constant stream of people in and out of the store on Monday, plenty of folks have been waiting impatiently for this day.
“It’s been very steady today,” said District Manager Richard Vitagliano. “Especially when school got out. Apparently, Dunkin’ Donuts was the subject of conversation at Otter Valley all day today.”
It’s a full-service, free-wifi, “next generation” location, with both eat-in dining and a drive-thru window. There’s even a particular table set up to accommodate myriad devices: there are plugs for laptops and wireless charging pads for phones. Just rest your phone on a pad and it automatically begins charging, much to the surprised delight of several young employees who tested it out.
“We’re heading into pumpkin spice season,” replied Vitagliano when asked what was new at the store. “We’ve got a frozen coffee with pumpkin munchkins blended in. It’s called ‘Ice Spice.’” For those who come alive in autumn—the foliage, the crisp temps, the plaid flannel—the advent of Spice Season at Dunks is nirvana. But don’t dawdle: the spice runs out around Halloween.
Franchise owner Laura Merone-Walsh was on hand to make sure the first day went off without a hitch. It’s Merone-Walsh’s 14th Dunkin’ Donuts location, so she knows what it takes to keep one running in peak form.
“This was 9 years in the planning,” said Merone-Walsh, who also owned the Mobil gas station that had occupied the spot. “It kept getting pushed back because of all the construction here. We started the project when Dave Atherton was Town Manager and now with Seth Hopkins and Bill Moore. The town’s been great to work with.”
In addition to the Dunkin’ Donuts, the property contains a gas station and a car wash, both owned by Merone-Walsh but run as separate businesses. There’s also a town-owned bank of charging stations for electric cars: you can have a coffee and jelly-filled while you charge your car.
The location right on Route 7 as it passes through downtown Brandon has only heightened the anticipation, as everyone was able to watch the construction while speculating when the restaurant would finally open.
“People think it’s going to be instant,” said Merone-Walsh. “But it’s a process. We have to train the staff; we have to make sure everything is set up and ready to go.”
The donuts are baked every morning at their facility in Rutland and driven up to Brandon in time for opening at 5:30 am (6 am on Sundays). Bagels, muffins, and croissants are all baked on premises in Brandon.
And one of the biggest innovations of this “next gen” restaurant is the app that allows you to place an order from your phone so it’s waiting for you when you arrive at the store. You can pick it up at the drive-thru window or, if you’d rather not wait in line, at the designated pick-up shelves at the counter. It’s prepaid through the app, so there’s no in-store transaction to pick up your food. Just grab your bag and go.
Later on in October there will be a bigger “grand opening” celebration that will involve all three of the businesses, said Merone-Walsh.
Whether you’re on your way to work, on your way home, on your lunch break, or just looking for a bite to eat in town, Dunkin’ Donuts is open for business.