Every two months, the staff at DDIFO convenes an editorial meeting to decide the theme, focus and content of the next issue of Independent Joe. As we contemplate and discuss various possibilities, we do so with one eye on the timeliness of the potential subject matter. Our discussions are always geared toward which subjects could provide the greatest benefit to Dunkin’ franchise owners, and at the same time, how to make that next issue of the magazine most enjoyable and interesting for our subscribers.

As we met to discuss this issue however, life was changing at breakneck speed. The coronavirus had spread throughout the world—Italy was shut down, Spain was shut down, international commerce was disrupted, jobs were being lost and almost every nation on the planet was dealing with Covid-19 to some extent or other.

Here in the U.S., since the first case of coronavirus was reported in Washington State in January, we have averaged over 868 deaths per day. As of the first week of May, we were seeing over 19,000 new cases of coronavirus reported each and every day with the total number of those being infected in the United States at that time exceeding 1.25 million. In February, the U.S. Surgeon General urged Americans not to wear masks, and the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was that masks might cause more harm than good. Today, that same CDC strongly recommends the use of facemasks, and there are portions of 30 states across the nation where the wearing of a mask in public is actually mandated by law. Changes were happening so quickly that a story or an official report released in the morning was often rendered moot by the early afternoon.

Against that backdrop, we thought it might best serve our constituents to look back, instead of looking immediately forward. We decided on producing a magazine issue steeped in nostalgia that examined some of the cornerstones of Dunkin’s growth from the early days of Dunkin’ Donuts (and Open Kettle) to the beverage-led giant that is Dunkin’ in 2020, coronavirus notwithstanding. A lighter, feel-good issue that everyone could enjoy in these trying times, if you will.

We delved into the development of the drive-thru window, which became an enormous driver of QSR revenue long before the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to into the drive-thru line. We reminisced about the transition from the counter service that was ubiquitous in the 1960s and 70s to our on-the-go, order online culture of the 21st century. And, we took a somewhat lighthearted look at some of the issues that have confronted Dunkin’ franchisees over the last 20 years, with an eye on historic trends that have made Dunkin’ the company it is today.

Yet, even as the world was changing at breakneck speed, franchisees have been focused on how they can get back to “normal.” States are taking steps to relax shelter-in-place orders and allow businesses to reopen—while paying extra attention to disinfecting and social distancing. So, in the midst of our nostalgia, we also felt it necessary to incorporate important guidance on how best to reopen your shops and help you get back on track. In looking forward with acknowledgement of our history, we continue to “be there” for our members and the greater Dunkin’ franchisee community at-large as best we can.

What’s more, unless the new realities of our world dictate otherwise, we still plan to host the DDIFO National Conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville October 4-6, 2020. We are scheduling educational presentations befitting the post-coronavirus business environment, and are still planning to honor the 2020 DDIFO Hall of Fame class with a celebration on Sunday, Oct. 4. We count on being there for you and we hope you will plan to join with us in Music City.

So, while we enjoy the look-back contained in these pages, let’s plan to move forward together with the same determination, vision and innovation that Dunkin’ has shown throughout its history.

Ed Shanahan
DDIFO Executive Director