June 11--Dunkin' Donuts has accelerated its expansion in California, announcing plans Tuesday to open at least five doughnut shops by the end of the year.
The first locations were initially expected to open in 2015. However, Dunkin' said shops in Downey, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Modesto and Whittier will likely open before the end of 2014.
"Today's announcement of the locations of our first new traditional Dunkin' Donuts restaurants represents development that is ahead of schedule due to the strong interest of prospective franchisees and consumers across the state," said Paul Twohig, president of Dunkin' Donuts in the U.S. and Canada.
Since announcing its West Coast comeback, Dunkin' has opened three shops in San Diego, Barstow and Camp Pendleton. But those stores are considered non-traditional, opening inside a hotel, a tourist center and a military base.
The five California locations, including Long Beach, will be the first traditional -- free-standing or retail center -- shops to open in the state, Dunkin' officials said Tuesday.
The East Coast company is also stepping up franchise agreements in California, where 1,000 locations are planned. Nearly 200 are now in the works for the Greater Los Angeles area. Many will have drive-through lanes and will be open 24 hours. Their competitors will range from family-run doughnut shops to Starbucks, analysts have said.
Of the five locations expected to open first, Long Beach has earned the biggest buzz.
The Seventh Street store is taking over a closed coffee shop that is home to a 15-foot doughnut marquee -- an architectural icon with sentimental support in the city. At one point, the 60-year-old sign was slated for demolition. Facing protests, Dan Almquist, managing partner with Newport Beach-based Frontier Restaurant Group, said he would include the sign into the Dunkin' design.
Other Los Angeles County locations are set for 9070 Firestone Blvd. in Downey and 1132 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica. The Wilshire location is less than a mile from one of the city's most popular mom-and-pop stores, DK's Donuts & Bakery.
Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Brands operates, mostly through franchising, 7,700 Dunkin' Donuts in the U.S. For fiscal 2013, the company reported $6.7 billion in revenue from its domestic franchisees.
Staff writer Pat Maio contributed to this report.
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Original headline: Dunkin' Donuts accelerates California expansion
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