Dunkin’ of the future cements on-the-go brand status. If anyone thinks foodservice channels aren’t converging, they need to grab one of the bar-style seats at the new prototype for Dunkin’ Donuts. Turn one way, and the view could be of a c-store interior, with fresh fruit ready to be grabbed off a shelf and a cooler of packaged sodas figuring into a retail-food area stocked with snacks and boxed treats. 

Spin in another direction, and casual visitors might swear they’re in a tavern, with an employee in a T-shirt pulling one of eight draft handles, though to dispense cold-brew coffee instead of suds.

Outside the Boston-area Dunkin’ store, a drive-thru aims to make Chick-fil-A’s pull-up service, once considered advanced, feel clunky by serving as an express pickup lane for patrons who ordered and paid via phone app.

Inside, an airy interior underscores what critics and champions alike have observed about the new store: With a little more green splashed around, you’d think it was a Starbucks. It’s even similarly moved its baked goods up front: A bowed glass display case takes doughnuts from their usual placement behind the staff and puts them where guests can see while they wait in line.

Dunkin’ says it was aiming to streamline operations for the sake of speed, throughput and cost, not ape a competitor. Dunkin’ is aiming for convenience above all. The bar-like cold-brew area, for instance, allows orders to be filled faster. The unit sports Dunkin’s streamlined menu, another trait expected to speed service. And prepaid orders can be picked up by customers without so much as speaking with a staffer.

The format is so different for the doughnut specialist that the store dropped “Donuts” from its exterior signage.

Dunkin’ is already testing the concept, known internally as Next Generation, on the West Coast, a prime area of expansion for the New England-based chain. 

30: Number of next-gen Dunkin’ stores planned for this year, to test operational and design changes