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McClatchy-Tribune  08/17/2014 12:01 AM ET
The Modesto Bee Patty Guerra column [The Modesto Bee :: ]

Aug. 17--Dunkin' Donuts announced this week it will open in Modesto on Aug. 26.

The chain's Modesto location is at 1320 Standiford Ave., formerly occupied by a Boston Market and notable because it's across the street from Mr. T's Delicate Donut, a longstanding and popular independent shop.

For Dunkin', it's part of a push into California. The franchise will be operated by Sizzling Platter/Sizzling Donuts, which operates several restaurants in the West, according to a news release. Founded in 1950, the Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Donuts operates nearly 11,000 restaurants in 33 countries.

Mallory Schluter of Formula PR Inc. is handling public relations for the Modesto restaurant. She said the operators plan to hire about 80 people; several hires have been made already and interviews were conducted on-site last week.

Doors open at 5 a.m., and Schluter said there will be a party to celebrate, complete with a special "California-inspired doughnut" and appearances by mascots Cuppy and Sprinkles.

But not everybody is thrilled about the developments. Though the owners of Mr. T's said they are not concerned, a customer started a petition asking Dunkin' Donuts to reconsider. The petition, started by Audrey Gnesa of Davis, seeks signatures from those who "feel that a successful and trustworthy family-owned business, such as Mr. T's, should not have their clientele infringed upon by the Dunkin' Donuts Corporation and this specific franchise that is threatening their business by moving just a donut hole's throw away."

Late last week, the petition had gathered more than 1,500 signatures. I asked Schluter for a response from the Dunkin' operators; she was checking but did not get back to me.

I asked the owners of Mr. T's for their thoughts. They said they didn't have any comment about the planned opening. On their Facebook page, they say, "We aren't worried about Dunkin' Donuts. They also have the right to open their shops at any location they want. It's just great to see our loyal customers supporting us!"

Some of those loyal customers spoke out on Friday when asked their thoughts about the competition.

"They'll never make it trying to compete with this," said longtime customer Bill Frame. "They'll have to be more like a Starbucks."

Indeed, the release from Dunkin' Donuts points out that the restaurant is known for more than just fried, sugary treats.

"Our restaurant will feature Dunkin' Donuts' extensive array of high-quality hot and iced beverages, as well as sandwiches and baked goods, all served with the brand's trademark fast and friendly service," said Ted Morton, president and CEO of Sizzling Platter. "We hope to quickly become the go-to destination for Modesto's morning coffee, afternoon snack and evening treat."

Longtime Modestan Dee Mulligan, who drives across town to visit Mr. T's, said she'll "probably" try Dunkin' Donuts. "But I'll always come back here."

Elsewhere around the Business Beat

Folks who have lived in the area for some time recall a Sears Outlet operating in Ceres. If you are among those who miss it, you will be pleased to know a new one has opened at 1800 Prescott Ave., Modesto.

According to a press release, the Modesto location is the seventh new Sears Outlet to open this year. The stores offer "new, one-of-a-kind, discontinued, used, reconditioned, overstocked, and cosmetically blemished products across a broad assortment of merchandise categories," the release says. Those include home appliances, lawn and garden equipment, clothing, mattresses, sporting goods and tools, "marked significantly lower than manufacturers' suggested retail prices."

"The Modesto community can expect a treasure-hunt feel as they explore our wide variety of products, all at a great value," store manager Sajid Malik said in the release. The store also offers delivery and installation.

The Sears Outlet is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call (209) 523-2602.

Have an item for Business Beat? Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter @PattyGuerra.

 

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