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Dunkin' reveals its format of the future

Dunkin’ Donuts is updating its store design to incorporate such features as a faster drive-thru service for loyalty-program members who order via app.

Other innovations of the prototype unveiled today include an interior pickup station for to-go orders; digital tracking boards that inform customers of their orders’ status; and a grab-and-go retail section featuring bottled drinks, fresh fruit and packaged snacks. The chain indicated the unit will add self-order kiosks later this year.

The franchised unit in Quincy, Mass., a mile from the first Dunkin’ Donuts store, bears only the word “Dunkin’” and a “DD” logo on its exterior. No mention is made of doughnuts, a reflection of the concept’s plan to transform itself into what Dunkin’ U.S. President Dave Hoffmann terms a “beverage-first, on-the-go brand.”

dunkin storefronts

Beverages indeed get a spotlight at the new store. Eight cold-prep drinks will be dispensed via what the franchisor says is a new tap system. The selections include iced tea, cold-brew coffee and nitro-infused cold-brew coffee. Customers can spec their own blend of coffee via a separate single-cup system.

The menu will be the streamlined roster that Dunkin' intends to roll systemwide by April. "The new menu is more food-focused and predominantly afternoon sandwich focused in terms of the products that we have eliminated," a spokesman said via email.

Dunkin’ says the new drive-thru setup is a first for a national restaurant brand. Members of the brand’s loyalty program, DD Perks, can bypass the ordering station on the drive-thru lane and merge directly into the pickup queue if they order via Dunkin’s phone app.

“We think the drive-thru can be taken to a new level.” Nigel Travis, CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts parent Dunkin’ Brands, told investors at the ICR Conference last week.

Improving drive-thru service was a key reason for Dunkin’s recent recruitment of former McDonald’s Regional President Rick Colon as SVP of operations, Travis added. He also noted that drive-thrus are more important outside Dunkin's Northeastern base. The chain is focused on developing outside of that stronghold and expanding in particular within California, where the brand bombed in its first attempt to crack the nation’s largest restaurant market.

As with the On-the-Go drive-thru service, the in-store pickup station for to-go orders is aimed at DD Perks members who use Dunkin’s phone app.

The store will also feature a new design for crewmembers’ uniforms. The simple T-shirts bear expressions such as “Start me up” and “Drink coffee, be awesome.” They were designed by the lifestyle brand Life is Good.

The new prototype measures 2,200 square feet. Dunkin’ did not reveal the cost, but noted that the updated format requires 25% less energy than a conventional unit.  The Dunkin' spokesman added, "we’ve collaborated closely with the franchisees to work toward ensuring restaurant updates can be done feasibly, and with a strong ROI."

It’s one of 30 the chain said it will open this year to test various operational and design changes.

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