Dunkin' Donuts is intensifying its new push into Minnesota, announcing on Thursday that 10 outlets are in the works for the Twin Cities area.
Twin Cities-based Legacy Concepts agreed with Dunkin' to open franchises starting potentially by the end of 2015 in Minneapolis, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina and other west metro communities, the nation's largest doughnut-and-coffee chain said.
"We're going through the site selection process right now," said Damon Dranchak, vice president and general manager for Legacy Concepts. "We'd like to get one open by the end of the year."
Dranchak, who left General Mills after about a year working in international franchising for Häagen-Dazs for this entrepreneurial pursuit, said his group has also been in discussions with the Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport about locating Dunkin' Donuts in those two high-traffic locations.
The 7,000-unit Dunkin' Donuts has been steadily expanding its sandwich and wrap offerings in an effort to counter competitors such as Starbucks and Brooklyn Center-based Caribou.
The chain, based in Boston and operating since the 1950s, is strongest in the Northeast.
"I'm over-the-moon excited about this," said Marc Betinsky, of Maplewood. "I'm a native East Coaster who used to live and practice law in Boston. … The company moved out [of Minnesota] before I relocated here in 2006."
Last summer, Dunkin' Donuts ended a nearly 10-year hiatus from Minnesota, with the opening of an outlet at the Kahler Grand Hotel in downtown Rochester.
Within weeks, another franchisee revealed plans to build Dunkin' outlets across northern Minnesota, from Brainerd to the Iron Range to the Duluth area, with the first opening in mid-2015 near Miller Hill Mall in Duluth.
Franchise deals in this industry don't come cheap. When Dunkin' Donuts hosted a webinar last year for potential franchisees, the company said that prospects needed $250,000 in liquid assets and a net worth of at least $500,000.
Legacy Concepts has years of experience in the commercial real estate industry. Specifically, Dranchak has worked for Caribou, Auntie Anne's pretzels and with Delaware North placing restaurants in airports.
Until these recent Minnesota deals, a franchisee in Austin had been the last to run a Dunkin' Donuts in the state. That locale became the Donut Connection in 2005.
There is still plenty of room for more franchises in Minnesota and elsewhere in the Twin Cities, said Steve Rafferty, Dunkin' Donuts senior director of business development.
"We do have other opportunities available and are in various stages of discussions with other groups like Damon's," Rafferty said.
Prospective franchisees can learn more at dunkinfranchising.com.
In 2008, Dunkin' Donuts had announced plans to sell about 100 franchises in Minnesota. That effort never materialized, the company explained, because it lacked the proper supply chain, training and other operations for the region.
The company's persistent push into Minnesota follows inroads in 2013 in Salt Lake City, Dallas, Houston and other markets far from its base in the Northeast.