Photos by Asia Morris.
The grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for Dunkin’ Donuts' 7th St. location was quite the event, as Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees spoke to attendees under Tuesday’s warm December sun. A line out the door and a drive-thru mimicking an In'n’Out late-night dinner rush appropriately set the backdrop to the opening of the first Dunkin’ Donuts in Long Beach, the third Dunkin’ to open in Southern California and the fourth to open in California.
Brian Carmichael, VP of Development for Dunkin’ Brands, introduced the DD Green program, a green building certification program designed to assist franchisees develop sustainable, energy-efficient restaurants. Carmichael also suggested choosing healthier items from the DDSMART menu, a list of healthier alternatives to the carb- and sugar-laden donuts and baked goods.
“I have just one more thing to touch on,” Carmichael continued, “which was one of my favorite things about this whole project. The donut sign. It really symbolizes this whole project for me. It’s about working together with the city, the community, to find out how to reuse this property in the best way. We’re excited to be able to repurpose the donut and get it up. We’re really happy about that.”
Dan Almquist, Managing Partner of Frontier Restaurant Group, the franchisee of the Long Beach Dunkin’ Donuts location, followed by saying, “This is the perfect example of the developer and the city working together to create a great outcome.”
As Cuppy, Dunkin’ Donuts’ googly-eyed styrofoam cup mascot waved to the crowd, Mayor Robert Garcia took the podium and after praising the 7th St. location, invited the franchise to develop other locations in Long Beach. “I publicly would like to welcome you to open additional Dunkin’ Donuts stores in Long Beach. We’d love to have you in Bixby Knolls or Downtown, or in other parts of the city. That would really be great.”
Councilwoman Susie Price spoke after the mayor, citing the valid concerns of neighboring residents. Witnesses on Flint Ave. noticed residents taking pictures of vehicles leaving the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot, showing clear signs of annoyance at the increase in traffic.
“I live about a stone’s throw away from the shop so I welcome you to the neighborhood,” said Price. “I know that it was a little bit challenging through the process because there were a lot of neighborhood concerns - you’re adjacent to many homes - and I look forward to a very successful relationship where we’re able to mitigate any of the issues that come up.”
Matt Higgins, a spokesman for Frontier Restaurant Group, said, “We’re all born and raised around here so it’s just an opportunity that we had to go at full force. We put everything we had into becoming a franchisee of Dunkin’ and we put everything we had into this store and that sign and we're going to put everything we have into making this a first class deal of a store and to hopefully develop a long-standing relationship with the community.
“One day our little kids will all be working here. We’re in it for the long haul and we thank you for welcoming us,” he concluded. Higgins then presented a representative of the VA Long Beach Healthcare System with a check for $1,000 on behalf of Dunkin’ Donuts.
Almquist then concluded the presentation thanking Long Beach resident Bill Tripodi for his support. “He was the first guy to call me and tell me I was an idiot for proposing to take the donut sign down and coached us and in all honesty I am really grateful for his feedback. He’s the guy. Good job Bill.”
Upon entering the crowded and bustlin' Dunkin’ Donuts, Patrick Mckenna, a Long Beach native who is studying Business at CSULB, said he loves the restaurant for its Coolattas and because “it’s cheaper than Starbucks.” He continued, “It’s a nostalgia trip because I used to visit the East Coast every summer when I was in high school to visit my cousins.”
Photo by Brittany Woolsey.
Long Beach's Dunkin' Donuts is located at 5560 E. 7th St.