Legal dispute closes pair of Dunkin’ Donuts stores in Manatee County Florida

A sign posted in the door of Dunkin’ Donuts on Manatee Avenue tells the story. Photo by: TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE

A sign posted in the door of Dunkin’ Donuts on Manatee Avenue tells the story. Photo by: TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE

Grace Gagliano of Bradenton Herald reports that two Dunkin’ Donuts shops in Manatee have closed after an ongoing dispute between the corporation and the franchisees.

Dunkin’ Donuts terminated the franchise agreements for the stores at 5605 Manatee Ave. W. and 5635 14th St. W. over breach-of-contract violations it says franchisees Mary and Stan Furash committed.

The stores, which employed 30, closed Friday.

Dunkin’ Donuts notices of termination were filed in October 2008 and Jan. 26, and the franchisees had attempted to fight the closings. However, Stan Furash said he and his wife could no longer afford the legal fees.

“We made a name for ourselves and the brand in Bradenton,” Stan Furash said. “Even in the recession, we were doing $2 million (in annual revenue) between the two stores. I don’t understand why they’re busting my chops.”

Dunkin’ Donuts filed a lawsuit Jan. 26 in Tampa federal court stating the franchisees failed to follow store operations.

The suit states Mary Furash did not devote time to managing the shops, and both stores failed to maintain a sufficient supply of Baskin-Robbins ice cream and other products.

In addition, the lawsuit claims the franchisees failed to attend a training course after they were cited for violations of operation standards.

“We are committed to the people of Bradenton and hope to reopen these stores under new management in the future,” Andrew Mastrangelo, spokesman for Dunkin’ Donuts, said Tuesday. “We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our customers.”

But Furash said Dunkin’ Donuts forced him and his wife out of their franchise agreement so the corporation could profit from legal and violation fees.

Dunkin’ Donuts officials declined to give further comment regarding the stores’ franchise agreements.

However, the company said in its lawsuit the franchisees continued to operate both stores despite the termination notices but failed to pay the corporation routine fees for the franchise, advertising and other charges.

According to the lawsuit, the Manatee Avenue West store owes $20,917 in franchise and advertising fees, and the 14th Street West shop owes $13,033.

Stan Furash said his wife, Mary, moved to Massachusetts last year while he remained in Bradenton to operate both stores. After receiving a notice of termination due to Mary’s absence, Furash said he filed proper paperwork with Dunkin’ Donuts to avoid termination. In regards to the stores’ ice cream supplies, Furash said the company agreed to allow them to terminate the Baskin Robbins agreement.

“They gave us the option to terminate the Baskins’ agreement,” Furash said. “But then they changed their mind.”

Two remaining Dunkin’ Donuts shops in Manatee County at 11002 S.R. 64 E. and 7305 S.R. 70 E. are still open.

Bradenton Herald