Nine years after he opened his first Dunkin' Donuts shop in Hixson, Dave Baumgartner cut the ribbon Tuesday on his 38th Dunkin' restaurant — a new storefront eatery off of Interstate 75 in Ooltewah.
Baumgartner, president and principal owner of the Knoxville-based Bluemont Group, has opened 10 new Dunkin' locations this year in East Tennessee and North Georgia, including new stores in the past two months in Dalton, Cleveland and now Ooltewah.
"Dunkin' is one of the fastest growing franchised restaurant concepts and it has a lot of territory and room to grow," Baumgartner said Tuesday as he greeted patrons at his newest Dunkin' outlet at 5024 Hunter Road. "Dunkin' has fabulous products and sells more coffee, more bagels and more doughnuts than any other retailer. If you are driving to work and want our coffee, we want to be accessible to as many people as we can in this area."
Baumgartner said ever since he mentioned his desire to expand into Ooltewah at another restaurant opening a couple of years ago, Ooltewah area residents have continually asked him when he would open his store.
To build enthusiasm for his new outlets, Baumgartner regulary rewards the first 100 guests to one of his new stores a month of free coffee and donuts. As Dunkin' mascots Cuppy and Sprinkles entertained those waiting Tuesday for the 5 a.m. opening Tuesday in Ooltewah, some people waited as long as seven and a half hours in line to make sure they got the Dunkin' giveaway.
"People love our products," Baumgartner said.
Dunkin' (rebranded last year from Dunkin' Donuts) began in 1950 in New England and has grow to nearly 10,000 shops in the United States, most of them east of the Mississippi River.
Even with seven franchised Dunkin' outlets in metro Chattanooga, Baumgartner is scouting sites for more stores. Bluemont Group plans to open a Dunkin' outlet in Murphy, North Carolina in January and Baumgartner said he is purchasing a site on South Broad Street at the base of Lookout Mountain for another Chattanooga location.
Baumgartner's franchise extends over five territories from Murphy up to Knoxville and across Chattanooga down to Birmingham, Alabama, which he recently acquired. He built the first free-standing next-generation Dunkin' store in the country on Western Avenue in Knoxville, which opened in March.
To supply his growing chain of Dunkin outlets — and others in the Quincy, Massachusetts-based chain — Bluemont opened a 40-employee bakery to make the doughnut, bagels and other baked products in Ringgold, Georgia. The Ringgold bakery supplies about 100 Dunkin' outlets from Atlanta to Knoxville.
Last week, Bluemont's bakery made more than 56,000 dozen doughnuts, Baumgartner said.
The typical store has 20 to 25 workers and is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.
Contact Dave Flessner at email@example.com or at 757-6340