Dunkin’ Donuts won’t threaten local coffee shops, owners say



Cindy Deng

The construction site of the new Dunkin’ Donuts on July 30, 2013. “I think it’ll be good to have this here for campus kids,” said Brent Gertenslager, the electric subcontractor of the site. Photo by Adrianne Bastas.

As construction nears completion, local coffee shop owners say they don’t see Dunkin’ Donuts as competition.

Dunkin’ Donuts might be finished during fall semester, said franchise owner Ken Blum. He and Jeff Meyers, associate architect from David Sommers and Associates, LLC, have been eyeing the location for five years.

“They’re definitely looking to serve the college population — that’s why they spent more money on a more Dunkin- Donuts experience,” Meyers said. “It’s the only strip that surrounds the Kent campus that allows that type of use.”

Blum said Dunkin’ Donuts will be “unlike any other built in the area.” He said it will have a mezzanine area with booths and traditional table seating.

As for their coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts’ is priced cheaper than Starbucks and Tree City Coffee.

Comparing their equal size of a large cup of coffee (20 ounces), both Starbucks and Tree City Coffee is $2.25 for a hot black coffee and $2.95 for an iced coffee, whereas Dunkin’ Donuts is $1.99 for a hot black coffee and $2.39 for an iced coffee.

Blum said the quality of Dunkin’ Donuts’ products combined with their speed of service and competitive pricing is their advantage among other coffee shops.

“We take great pride in the quality of our coffee, doughnuts and baked goods and sandwiches,” Blum said. “When we are at our best, we can take your order, prepare your order and have you on your way in 90 seconds.”

Starbucks manager John Richardson said he’s only concerned about Dunkin’ Donuts’ drive-thru because of its convenience. Known from his previous experience, he said the business eventually “evens out” after a competitor moves in the area.

Sara Krehbiel, graduate speech pathology student, said she values a coffee shop’s atmosphere more than anything. She prefers quieter areas where she can study and do homework.

“I guess I’d try it, but it would depend on the atmosphere,” Krehbiel said. “I mostly come to Starbucks to study and do homework, so if it’s not super homework-friendly then I probably won’t go there very often.”

Evan Bailey, co-owner of Tree City Coffee, said corporate venues are often designed in a “Mr. Potato Head” manner, meaning they are all structured the same. He said the coffee experience is one of the most important things to consider when developing a shop.

“Some people will pay for it being local, some people will pay, in our case, for direct-trade coffee,” Bailey said. “At the end of the day, you want people to feel like they walked away with some thing of value.”

Rodney Wilson, co-owner of Scribbles Coffee Company, said his is a family-run business, so it was built in a residential area.

“We really go for an at-home feeling here,” Wilson said. “We’re more interested in being integrated in the neighborhood.”

Gina Harrell, a student at the University of Akron, said she has followed the Kent developments since Tree City Coffee was being built after she left Kent State a few years ago. Whenever she’s in town, she said she prefers Tree City Coffee for its specialty drinks and comfortable atmosphere.

“Not that I don’t love Starbucks, but I’d rather give my money to a local Kent business,” Harrell said. “I’m very conscientious of my milk options, so I typically choose a higher-priced coffee house over Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s that customized feel.”

Mike Mistur, co-owner of the Bent Tree Coffee Roasters, said he welcomes Dunkin’ Donuts into Kent. He said “it’s fun to go to different places” and have a variety of food or drinks to choose from.

“The more coffee shops and businesses you have here, the more it brings people into town,” Mistur said. “We think it’s great that Kent is getting developed. It’s probably better for the city and for everyone that it is a Dunkin’ Donuts than an empty gas station.”

Although Blum said he thinks the construction will be finished during the fall semester, the exact date is still uncertain.

“We are very excited about this location and look forward to joining the Kent community and serving the residents and students,” Blum said.

Contact Cindy Deng at [email protected].