The idea of a Hall of Fame has its roots in Norse Mythology, but it was really brought to fruition with Ludwig I, who was the King of Bavaria, in 1842. He commissioned the building of a memorial called Walhalla to hold plaques and statues honoring great Germans. The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, where nominees were selected by a national board of electors, was established in New York City in 1900 and is the first recorded use of the English phrase, “Hall of Fame.” Since then, halls have been established to recognize famous and notable people in sports, business, the arts and everything in between. Halls of fame enable us to honor and elevate individuals in recognition of their achievements. The DDIFO Franchise Owners Hall of Fame is no different.

Since 2011, DDIFO has identified the pioneers and influential men and women in the Dunkin’ system for induction into its Hall of Fame, identifying those that have exhibited outstanding character, put others above themselves and made a contribution of sustainable significance. Hall of Fame criteria stipulates that the inductee be a leader who sets an example for others to follow and puts the guest first.

In the nearly 70 years since William Rosenberg founded that first Dunkin’ Donuts, there have been many who have met and exhibited these qualities—and still more continue to exercise the character, the generosity, the knowledge and the leadership necessary to keep Dunkin’ a leader in the QSR industry. And it is thrilling for DDIFO, as an organization, to annually recognize some number of these individuals. In the early years of our Hall of Fame, we had some catching up to do – with six individuals inducted in each of the first three years creating an unshakable foundation of excellence for future inductions. (Since then, we’ve limited inductions to no more than three per year.)

That foundation of excellence we honor represents the backbone of Dunkin’ and the legacy of DDIFO. The growth of the brand, the success of its expansion, the value of its asset light model are in so many ways derived directly from the efforts of those who’ve been enshrined. As we stand on their shoulders to forge the future of Dunkin’, we must never forget their accomplishments.

This year’s class of inductees, Barkat Gillani, Peter Marcovich and Tony Salema further illustrate the foundation of excellence on which Dunkin’ stands. Each has been instrumental to the brand’s success in his own way; each has displayed the leadership and selflessness of those who have preceded them; and each is eminently worthy of Hall of Fame recognition.

It is also fitting to note that as Dunkin’ has expanded its footprint across the country, the exceptional leadership of its franchisees has expanded right along with it. This year, we induct the fifth member of the Hall of Fame with roots beyond Dunkin’s historically Northeast base. Excellence does not live by geographic boundaries.

When we honor excellence this fall at the giant resort in the Connecticut woods, we will also have on hand a different kind of Hall of Famer. This one earned his recognition protecting the blind side for NFL quarterback Tom Brady and, in the process, won three Super Bowl championships. DDIFO is honored to have New England Patriots Hall of Fame member Matt Light as a guest speaker for our Hall of Fame luncheon. Matt spent 11 years with the Patriots and was thrice chosen for the Pro Bowl before becoming the 27th member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame. Birds of a feather indeed.

Ed Shanahan
DDIFO Executive Director