Dunkin' Donuts returns to area with Hixson site

Dunkin' Donuts returns to area with Hixson site

September 25th, 2009 by Amy Williams in Business Around the Region

Staff photo by Matt Fields-Johnson A new Dunkin' Donuts at 5311 Highway 153 is under construction and scheduled to open on Nov. 11.

After four years, the Dunkin' Donuts chain is returning to the Chattanooga area.

Franchisee Dave Baumgartner is bringing the brand back in force.

Following the opening of the new location on Highway 153 in Hixson, tentatively set for Nov. 11, Mr. Baumgartner plans to open at least four stores in places such as Cleveland, Tenn., Fort Oglethorpe and Ooltewah.

"We are hoping to build as many as the market will support," said Mr. Baumgartner, president of the Bluemont Group.

When the Hixson store opens in November across from Northgate Mall, it will be a return of sorts for the company. The store operated most recently as Donut Connection.

"We did have four locations in Chattanooga between 1974 and 2005," said Brandy B. Zimmerle with Dunkin' Brands in Nashville, where the company is based.

Those franchisees decided not to renew their contracts with Dunkin', and the brand vanished from the market.

Mr. Baumgartner, who lives in Knoxville, is new to the doughnut business, but he has been attending training sessions in Orlando, Fla., to learn about the company's point-of-sale systems, pricing and practices.

"Dunkin' is in a major expansion mode, and I was excited about participating in their growth and where they are growing," Mr. Baumgartner said.

But when the store opens next month, there will be a few changes. Workers are adding a drive-through to serve those in a hurry and those expecting just doughnuts and coffee. The store will be about 1,800 square feet - a typical size for a Dunkin' Donuts location - and will serve its famous coffee, all-day sandwiches and other baked goods.

Mr. Baumgartner plans to hire between 40 and 50 people. He said he doesn't worry about the economy because the brand is recession-friendly.

Dunkin' Donuts coffee has a very loyal following that has made it among the most popular retail coffee brands in the country, Ms. Zimmerle said.