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In this 2013 file photo, a girl holds a drink and a doughnut at a Dunkin' Donuts in New York.

Mark Lennihan, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

Dunkin’ Donuts was last seen in the Twin Cities market 10 years ago. The chain last tried to return to Minnesota in 2008, but that effort fell through.

TOBY TALBOT • Associated Press,

Dunkin' Donuts outlines plans for about 50 Minnesota stores

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH
  • Star Tribune
  • January 10, 2014 - 11:42 PM

Dunkin’ Donuts is poised to roll back into Minnesota.

The nation’s largest doughnut-and-coffee chain, with more than 7,000 locations nationwide, is laying the groundwork “that will get us to about 50 stores in Minnesota,” Steve Rafferty, senior director of U.S. franchising for Dunkin’ Brands, said Friday.

The bulk of those locations would be in the Twin Cities area, along with others in the Duluth, Rochester and Mankato markets. The push into Minnesota is part of a national expansion that saw the chain make inroads last year in Salt Lake City, Dallas, Houston and other markets far from its Massachusetts headquarters.

As for when Minnesotans can satisfy their tastes for crullers, glazed and the occasional cream-filled Dunkin’ Donuts offerings, Rafferty said that appears to be at least 12 to 18 months away.

“We have to find the right franchise partners, and they will need to find the existing buildings,” he said.

A return of Dunkin’ Donuts would end what has so far been a roughly 10-year absence from the Twin Cities, after its stores either closed or went independent. An Austin franchise was the last one in Minnesota. That locale lowered the Dunkin’ Donuts sign in 2005 and became the Donut Connection.

The “Bring Dunkin’ Donuts to Minnesota” Facebook page was buzzing Friday with giddiness about the prospect for its return.

“This better be true,” wrote one commenter. “I’ve missed Dunkin’ Donuts since it left. Their coffee is hands down the best. Can’t stand that yuppie coffee at Starbucks!!!”

In 2008, Dunkin’ Donuts announced plans to sell about 100 franchises in Minnesota. That effort never materialized because the company realized it didn’t have the proper supply-chain or training infrastructure in place to act on such an ambitious expansion, ­Rafferty said.

This time around, he added, Dunkin’ Donuts is better positioned geographically for reclaiming Minnesota and supporting franchise efforts now that the company has a stronger presence in the Midwest and elsewhere beyond its Eastern U.S. comfort zone.

Dunkin’ Donuts also has been steadily expanding its sandwich and wrap offerings of late in an effort to counter ­competitors such as the Starbucks and Caribou national chains.

Dunkin’ Donuts has scheduled a Minnesota franchising webinar for Jan. 21 for those interested in operating an outlet in Minnesota. The webinar notice adds that potential franchisees need $250,000 in liquid assets and a net worth of at least $500,000.

 

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

© 2014 Star Tribune