When Bill Rosenberg opened the first Dunkin’ Donuts in 1950, the menu was not a major consideration.Rosenberg offered customers great tasting coffee and donuts, and the people who lived and worked near Quincy Mass. began a tradition of starting their mornings off with this staple. For almost two decades Dunkin’ was primarily known for coffee and donuts. It was not until 1978 that the first major menu change occurred with the addition of muffins.
In the mid to late 20th century, the standard American breakfast consisted of eggs, bacon, toast and coffee, enjoyed at home. In the 1970’s and 80’s, as more women entered the workforce, the traditional at home breakfast started falling out of style. No one had time to cook a traditional breakfast. Recognizing the need for a quick, on-the-go breakfast offering, McDonalds introduced the Egg McMuffin.
It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that Dunkin’ begun offering breakfast sandwiches. While it was well before my time, franchisees have told me the products were just “ok.” Some described them as, “A synthetic tasting egg on a soggy English muffin.” If it wasn’t for the coffee, most customers would probably have bypassed them completely. Since that time, Dunkin’ has committed to innovating its menu, adding new and better tasting products to the menu board. What’s more, Dunkin’ has successfully taken the traditional breakfast image and expanded the concept to drive sales throughout the day parts, into lunch, dinner and late night snacks. In the last five years our menus have expanded to offer flatbread sandwiches, tuna and chicken salad, plus a multitude of breakfast LTO ’s and, now, the bakery sandwich line.
With the expanded menu come expanded operational challenges. Franchisees spend more on food, inventory and electric usage—plus a significant increase in labor costs. We have to juggle the work schedule to accommodate at least one—and sometimes two—additional people at the sandwich station both in the morning and afternoon in order to meet the increased volume and accommodate the brand’s two minute service standard.
Recognizing this challenge, Dunkin’ has done an excellent job over the last 16 months consolidating food inventory and creating new menu items that allow franchisees to control food costs. For example, fresh bakery sandwiches that are made to order cost less than the old frozen, pre-made flat breads; French rolls can be used for both breakfast and lunch items; and the Big N’ Toasted lets operators reuse the Texas Toast for the grilled cheese sandwich (which also uses the existing cheese SKU).
Customers are responding favorably to these changes. Dunkin’ now offers a menu covering most dayparts—providing customers with a wide variety of items that are tasty, filing and priced right. In addition, the DDSmart menu offers a multitude of healthy offerings, helping differentiate Dunkin’ from its competitors.
Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a customer asking if it’s too late to get a breakfast sandwich. This proves that Dunkin’ has successfully changed how customers view our menu. They know we really have a varied, full-day menu.
I don’t know if Bill Rosenberg would recognizenhis own concept 63 years later, but I am convinced he would be pleased how Dunkin’ has morphed from America’s best loved coffee, to America’s all-day, everyday stop for coffee, baked goods and great tasting sandwiches.
Adam Goldman is a DD franchise owner with a successful multi-store network in upper New Jersey. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.