The competition is brewing.
East Coast cult classic Dunkin’ Donuts is moving to12th Street and Wilshire Boulevard with hopes of opening by early September. But only one block east sits Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, one block south lies a Starbucks and a few minutes away is the local donut shop, DK’s Donuts. Each sells coffee and pastries. Can so many shops share this one-mile radius of Santa Monica?
Southern California resident Alen Murat visits this Krispy Kreme store each time he commutes to Santa Monica for his job. He speculates that with Dunkin’ Donuts opening a block away, Kripsy Kreme will lose some of its current business. Murat is a dedicated Krispy Kreme customer, but said that he would venture to Dunkin’ Donuts for a change.
Founded in 1937, Krispy Kreme has 853 stores and their trademarked “Krispy Kreme hot original glazed doughnut” can be found in 24 countries. The Santa Monica location has a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf inside the shop, offering Coffee Bean signature drinks.
For East Coast native Michael Panarello, Krispy Kreme is better known and serves fresher doughnuts. He said Dunkin’ Donuts will attract customers with the coffee.
“Their coffee is the best coffee in the world,” Panarello said. “Dunkin’ Donuts will be a gold mine – I’ve met a lot of East Coast people out here. First starting off might be tough for them, but overall they’ll do really well.”
Although Dunkin’ Donuts will receive a lot of business, Panarello said, it won’t one-up Krispy Kreme in Santa Monica any time soon.
On the coffee front, Dunkin’ Donuts is in direct competition with Starbucks. With more than 20,000 stores, Starbucks covers more ground than the approximated 10,000 Dunkin’ Donuts locations. This year alone, two new Starbucks locations are expected in the city, bringing the total close to 20.
For Santa Monica College student Bita Tahmasbi, fresh doughnuts at low prices will attract customers to Dunkin’ Donuts. Still, Tahmasbi believes that dedicated Starbucks customers won’t part with the coffee shop’s work friendly vibe and high-quality coffee.
Dunkin’ Donuts, however, is confident that new Santa Monica customers will be interested in what the store has to offer, Dunkin’ Donuts spokesperson Justin Drake said. He said the new location would add a little taste of home for East Coast natives.
“There’s already strong brand awareness here on the West Coast and we’re very excited about the prospect of keeping Californians running as we expand our presence throughout the state,” Drake said. “We think our East Coast roots will only add to the overall appeal and we’ll be well received by Angelenos and former East Coasters alike.”
The company offers different products that exceed typical donut or coffee shop menus, said Drake. He said that from better-for-you options to a large list of beverage and sandwich choices, Dunkin’ Donuts prides itself in fast service at a great value.
“We’ve proven that we can compete against the competition in both new and existing markets across the country,” Drake said. “Dunkin’ Donuts has a strong, dedicated consumer base that we only hope to grow with our expansion into California.”
Just as Dunkin’ Donuts has a big following back East, DK’s Donuts, a local family run business opened in 1981, has created a strong Santa Monica presence.
“We have a very big following of locals and regulars who have been coming here since we’ve been open, and I feel that [Dunkin' Donuts] will do a little bit of damage to us, but we hope that our regulars will continue to [be loyal],” DK’s co-founder Mayly Tao said.
What sets DK’s apart from large, chain businesses is DK’s history as a Santa Monica shop and dedication to creating specialty donuts and pastries, she said.
“Dunkin’ has a huge following and everything, but our store has become so unique because we have been putting hard work [into] new products and know what people like and what people are willing to try,” Tao said. “That’s the thing that makes us different.”
DK’s new creations include a purple yam doughnut introduced in January and a waffle doughnut introduced this past spring. The treats are popular among Santa Monica residents and travelers who have asked DK’s to open shops in other locations, said Tao. Although Tao anticipates a small setback in business when Dunkin’ Donuts arrives, she is confident that DK’s offers a special doughnut experience that other stores cannot provide.
“I feel like with all of those other larger corporate companies, they’re very cookie cutter and we’re very different from that,” Tao said. “You can’t really find the quality and the care that we have in our products. We are catering to our people as if they are our own family.”
Dunkin’ Donuts will open stores in Santa Monica, Downey, Long Beach, Whittier and Modesto in 2014 and expects to open another 54 locations in the coming years.
The Santa Monica shop will be operated by Gary Haar and his business partner Steve Silverstein.
Neither eager East Coast Dunkin’ Donuts fans nor devoted Starbucks Westsiders can predict which Santa Monica shop will make the ultimate slam dunk.