Made in Massachusetts is an ongoing feature that takes you inside the products made here in the Bay State and the people who make them.
Joe Shannon holds a coffee mug with an exclamation mark as part of Dunkin’ new branding. But behind it, script characters say “Dunkin’ Donuts” mimicking the font displayed in the original café, which opened in May of 1950.
At 543 Southern Artery in Quincy, Massachusetts – the location of All Dunkin’ Donuts – the present and future of the quintessential Massachusetts brand blend with the past.
William Rosenberg opened Quincy’s in 1948 under the name Open Kettle, offering donuts for 5 cents and a cup of coffee for 10 cents. In 1950, he renamed the restaurant “Dunkin’ Donuts”, focusing on the two best-selling items – donuts and coffee. The first franchise opened five years later.
“I used to come here with my dad, often after work,” Shannon said. “My dad was a big fan of Dunkin’ Donuts. So we come here a lot.”
Shannon, now in his 60s and residing in Quincy, has seen several renovations of the original Dunkin’ including a retro restoration by current Quincy Store owners and brothers Octavio and Victor Carvalho. Carvalhos’ father, Jose, bought the Quincy site in 1979.
“It really is a family business,” said Victor Carvalho, “We grew up in the back room, Octavio and I, baking and doing everything.” “And then when my dad decided to retire in 1994, Octavio and I decided to take over as official franchisees at that point.”
The brothers renovated it in 2011 to make it look similar to what it did in the 1950s, with a horseshoe counter and pastry box on top.
“The funny part about it is that we have changed. Our menu has changed. We have added things,” said Victor Carvalho. “But our core values have never changed.”
Call it an exact copy of the original, but Shannon says it’s not accurate.
Shannon said the counter was much larger. Cakes were no longer made in the store, and coffee was served in cups, not disposable cups.
The recall is not meant to be precise, but to evoke memories. And she is.
As a child, Shannon’s father used to bring him to Dunkin’ Donuts after he stopped working at the post office.
His father drank coffee and bought Shannon a chocolate donut.
“There are a lot of good memories here,” Shannon said.
Shannon’s past experience is one of many that Carvallos can pass on. They remember watching a man sitting at the table when they were young and their dad owned the store. When the retro update was completed, the guy was one of the first to walk through the doors. The abacus served as a way for man to travel through time.
“There he is in his same old seat there 30 or 40 years ago,” said Victor Carvalho. “It was like deja vu. It kind of took me back.”
Today, Dunkin’ has expanded worldwide and has grown to more than 12,400 restaurants in 46 countries, making it appealing to both millennials on the go and those who still prefer sitting at the table with their breakfast and newspaper. The company’s worldwide headquarters is in Canton, about 12 miles from this first store.
“We have truly become a global brand, as we all started many years ago here,” said Scott Murphy, chief operating officer.
The Carvalho brothers also own the first Dunkin’ next-generation concept store a mile down the road in Quincy, which features a modern ambiance, an aisle dedicated to mobile ordering, and a tap system with eight cold drinks in the draft.
“I think when you get into the Next Generation project, what they were able to do is integrate that old and traditional feel, but it’s meant to be the leading on-the-go beverage brand in America,” said Victor Carvalho. Quick, we’re good, but we’ve never forgotten where we came from.”
The Next Generation store also includes items from the first Dunkin’ location, including the open design and the bakery tray protruding at the front of the store.
“The beauty we have with a 70-year-old brand is that there’s a lot of history and elements both old and new, and it’s kind of a cool hipster now, it’s throwback,” Murphy said.
While some aspects of the business have changed dramatically, Murphy said others haven’t changed at all.
Dunkin’ initial focus – coffee and cake – remains an important part of the brand, but the company has also updated its offerings to stay relevant to the next generation of consumers.
Murphy said that means making changes like the relaunch of Dunkin’ espresso products last fall, which were a huge hit — especially among millennials.
“They are interested in more sophisticated drinks,” he said.
Last year, the brand dropped the word “donuts” from its name in a bid to become a “drink leading” company with an emphasis on quick service.
But Murphy said the brand also has fun hidden in its identity.
Dunkin’ regularly releases new donuts and coffee flavors inspired by popular desserts, such as Trefoils Shortbread Coffee and Peeps donuts.
“Our customers are very loyal and come a few times a week which gives them variety, something different to taste, something different to try, whether it’s the Girl Scout flavor, whether it’s the new Signature Latte flavor with caramel or blueberry, these are so important and our guests are loving it” .
Murphy likes to call Duncan’s current approach “the ultimate in comfort,” because that’s what today’s guests want.
“Yes, some people come and sit at that old counter in this original store, but for this next generation, people want to come in and get a great product at a great value, and they want it fast,” he said.
Dunkin’ has launched a mobile app with on-the-go ordering that allows customers to pay in advance and get their food and drinks from the pickup desk or car window, which Murphy said creates a more efficient transaction for both customers and workers.
“We have a variety of things that guests love – I want to come, I want to sit down, I want to say ‘hello’ and see that smile, or today I want to rush out, I want to start ordering through the app because I’m late,” said Victor Carvalho. We got to that point today. You can’t survive 70 years without listening.”
“Part of the fabric of everyone’s life”
Whether it was breakfast after church on Sunday morning or a snack after sports, Murphy said Duncan has been a part of the lives of many Massachusetts residents.
“When you have a snowstorm and school is canceled, the first thing you have to do is dig your driveway for coffee at Dunkin’ so you can spend the rest of your day at home,” he said. We are part of the fabric of everyone’s life here.”
And nobody knows it better than Carvalhos.
Victor Carvalho remembers an ordinary person sitting at the table when his father owned the store in the 1970s. After the restaurant was retroactively renovated eight years ago, Carvalho said the customer is the second person to walk out the door.
“There he is in the same old seat he was 30 to 40 years ago,” Carvalho said. “It brought me back very quickly.”
He also watched another client, Rich, come in as a single man before eventually getting married and having his first child. This boy, Richie, is now coming in with his son.
He said “Literally three generations we’ve seen grow, and there are several generations like this. It’s heartening… you go through all this stuff and it’s not about interacting with clients, it’s about friendship, that’s what makes getting up out of bed every morning because you have Lots of these stories.”