News and Commentary

Dunkin’ Will Permanently Close 450 Stores
LEVITTOWN, NEW YORK - MARCH 16: An image of the sign for Dunkin' Donuts as photographed on March 16, 2020 in Levittown, New York.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The coffee and doughnut chain Dunkin’ will be permanently closing 450 stores by the end of 2020.

According to Today Food, the closing Dunkin’ locations will be the ones located inside Speedway gas stations, not free-standing brick and mortar restaurants, and “follows the termination of the coffee chain’s partnership with Hess, which was acquired by Speedway in 2014.”

In a statement, Kate Jaspon, Dunkin’s chief financial officer, said the closures will help support the chain’s focus on standalone cafes. The Speedway locations were typically smaller and located mainly on the East Coast.

“These points of distribution are lower volume units, in total representing less than 0.5% of Dunkin’ U.S. annual systemwide sales in 2019,” she said.

“By exiting these sites, we are confident we will be better positioned to serve these trade areas with Dunkin’s newest Next Generation restaurant design that offers a broader menu and modern experience,” she continued. “We also remain committed to growing our presence in gas and convenience locations, as well as other non-traditional locations, including airports, universities, travel plazas and military installations.”

The company underwent significant changes earlier this year when it dropped the famed “Donuts” from its title as the company sought to become a more standard coffee shop with donut options.

“Since then, the company has undergone some significant initiatives that included installing new espresso machines, ditching styrofoam and selling most of its coffee beverages in more eco-friendly cups and adding plant-based proteins to its breakfast sandwiches,” reported Today Food.

Though the company made no mention of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dunkin’ closures follow a pattern of other chain businesses that have either had to close locations, downsize staff, or shutdown permanently due to the frozen economic activity.

Three months after the shutdown, reports surfaced that the pizza and arcade franchise Chuck E. Cheese would soon be filing for bankruptcy to offset the massive losses it has incurred. According to Newsweek, the franchise, owned by CEC Entertainment, is now nearly $1 billion in debt with 527 locations in 47 states.

In May, the popular buffet chain Souplantation, known as Sweet Tomatoes outside of Southern California, regretfully announced it will be closing all locations permanently due to the pandemic.

“The FDA had previously put out recommendations that included discontinuing self-serve stations, like self-serve beverages in fast food, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” Garden Fresh CEO John Haywood told the San Diego Tribune. “The regulations are understandable, but unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to reopen. And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it.

Following Souplantation’s unfortunate announcement, the fast-food chain Steak N Shake announced it would be closing 10% of its locations due to the shutdowns.

In March, the National Restaurant Association predicted that 11% of restaurants could be closing permanently. Hudson Riehle, the Association’s senior vice president of research, said the data shows the industry is in “uncharted territory.”

“Association research found that 54% of operators made the switch to all off-premises services; 44% have had to temporarily close down. This is uncharted territory,” said Riehle. “The industry has never experienced anything like this before.”

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