Dunkin’ opens new “next generation” restaurant in Mechanicsburg 

Dunkin’, formerly Dunkin’ Donuts, has opened a new, “next generation” restaurant at 1423 S. Market St., Mechanicsburg. 

The 2,000-square-foot eatery employs 20 and features a modern look with “a fresh, friendly, vibrant and engaging environment,” a release noted. 

That includes a warm interior color palette; atmospheric lighting; a convenient, contactless drive-thru; a front-facing bakery case; complimentary Wi-Fi; and an innovative tap system for cold beverages, such Nitro-Infused Cold Brew, a next-gen exclusive. 

Dunkin’s next-gen restaurants are also designed to meet DD Green Achievement specifications and feature LED lighting, high-efficiency mechanical equipment, low-flow faucets and more. On average, DD Green Achievement eateries are 33% more energy efficient compared with conventional Dunkin’ restaurants, the release said. 

The South Market Street location is one of 10 Dunkin’ franchises in Pennsylvania owned and operated by BJ Patel. 

Part of the Inspire Brands family of restaurants, Dunkin’ has more than 12,600 eateries in 40 countries worldwide. 

Atlanta-based deli chain to open first midstate location 

The counter at McAlister’s. PHOTO PROVIDED

National sandwich chain McAlister’s Deli is opening its first franchise in the midstate with the opening of a deli in Harrisburg on Dec. 13. 

The Atlanta-based chain of 500 restaurants announced the opening of the new store this week, co-owned by Rathna Sivasailam of Mechanicsburg. 

“We are so excited to open our first McAlister’s Deli and bring this restaurant to the Harrisburg community,” said Sivasailam. “We knew this would be the perfect addition in town and we’re ready to share our table and McAlister’s famous sweet tea with Harrisburg.” 

McAlister’s offers sandwiches, breakfast, snacks, spud bars, salads, sandwich trays, box lunches and desserts.  

The  4401 Jonestown Road location features a dining room, catering and pickup window. In addition to the soft opening celebration, there will be an official grand opening next year. 

The company operates in 29 states and was founded in 1989. 

Duck Donuts franchisee opens first Saudi Arabia location

The entrance to Duck Donuts’ new location in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Duck Donuts’ newest international location opened this month in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Mechanicsburg-based donut franchise is in the midst of growing its brand outside of the country with franchisees in Saudi Arabia, Canada, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Anjal Arabia, the company’s franchisee in Saudi Arabia, signed a master franchise agreement  in October 2019. It opened its first Duck Donuts store this month and is expected to open nine additional units in the next five years.

The group will also sub-franchise Duck Donuts locations throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“We are delighted to add Saudi Arabia to the growing list of countries where Duck Donuts is expanding and is making a positive impact within the local community,” said Betsy Hamm, Duck Donuts CEO. “We look forward to their rapid development of this exciting market, giving those throughout the country the chance to taste and experience our warm, delicious and made-to-order donuts.”

The Riyadh Duck Donuts carries over the company’s beach theme and offers donuts, coffee, espresso, donut sundaes, breakfast and more.

“Since we have opened our doors, the positive feedback from all customers is motivating us to bring Duck Donuts to every mall in Saudi and open drive-through locations throughout the country to give everyone the chance to experience our delicious, warm donuts and great coffee,” said Mohammed Alsherhri, Duck Donuts Kingdom of Saudi Arabia co-owner. 

Duck Donuts opened its first international location in Dubai in late 2020. It plans to open its first franchises in Canada and Egypt in the coming months.


Duck Donuts signs deal to expand franchise to Canada

Mechanicsburg-based Duck Donuts continues its international expansion, announcing the signing of a multi-unit franchise agreement that awarded the rights to develop and operate the company’s first Canadian locations.

2651754 Ontario Inc. plans to establish three locations in Ontario over the next four years, with the first expected to open in late 2021 in the city of Burlington, on the northwestern end of Lake Ontario.

Duck Donuts presently operates in 22 states and 105 locations, including in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; it will open in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia later this summer.

“We are confident this first multi-unit franchise agreement will help us continue to generate interest throughout Canada and open many doors for our brand once the community has their first bite of a warm donut from Duck Donuts,” Betsy Hamm, Duck Donuts CEO, said in a release.

The company’s first stores opened in 2007 in the beach towns of Duck and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Duck Donuts started franchising six years later.

Duck Donuts inks agreement that will ‘sprinkle a little happiness’ in Egypt

An Egyptian convenience store and gas station company plans to open 25 Duck Donuts locations after signing a master franchise agreement with the Mechanicsburg-based chain.

Master Foods, a managing group of retail stores, agreed to open 25 locations in Egypt over the next five years, the first of which is planned for New Cairo later this year.

“We are very excited to announce our expansion to Egypt and enter into this partnership with Master Foods, a group who is eager and ready to integrate the Duck Donuts brand within a country filled with rich history,” said Betsy Hamm, Duck Donuts CEO. “Not only are Egyptians always looking to try something new, especially desserts, but the culture has a strong focus on family values, which aligns perfectly with our brand.”

Duck Donuts opened its first locations in Duck and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 2007. The company became a franchise in 2013 and has since grown to operate 105 locations across the country and one in Dubai.

Ahmed Sabat, the new co-owner of Duck Donuts Egypt, said he discovered Duck Donuts through its Dubai location and knew that the brand would be popular in Egypt.

“(I) instantly knew this unique brand and made-to-order experience would make a great fit within the Egyptian culture that appreciates high-quality foods,” said Sabat. “Duck Donuts will land in the heart of Cairo and soon we will be able to sprinkle a taste of happiness to those throughout Egypt.”

Last month, Duck Donuts was acquired by Radnor-based private equity firm NewSpring Franchise in a move that is expected to accelerate the franchise’s growth to more markets.
Duck Donuts plans to open about 30 locations before the end of the year, and expand to 50 annually in 2022.

Sonic closes restaurants in in Lancaster, Reading close

Sonic Drive-In locations in Lancaster and Berks counties have closed after they were unable to secure buyers to continue operations.

Sonic restaurants in West Earl and East Lampeter townships in Lancaster County and Reading have closed permanently — affecting 22 employees in Reading and 53 in Lancaster.

Donald Welsh, a multi-unit franchisee for Sonic Drive-in, announced the closures in a series of Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

In the notices, Welsh writes that due to unforeseen challenges to normal business operations, he was forced to look for buyers for the restaurants, including Sonic locations in Fayette and Montgomery counties, and was unable to find any.

“This closing is the result of the company’s inability to secure a buyer despite its active efforts to do so to allow the restaurant to continue operating, and the subsequent sudden and unexpected failure of negotiations between the Company and its franchisor, Sonic Drive-In,” Welsh wrote in each of the six notices.

According to the notice, each each of the businesses chose not to give notice to the franchisor, Sonic Drive-In, which would have been necessary to continue operations as Sonic restaurants, because it would have harmed efforts to sell the businesses.

Because the businesses failed to provide ample notice, all six locations can no longer operate under the Sonic trademark and were forced to close without providing 60 days’ notice to their employees.

Layoffs at each of the facilities began on Tuesday.

Former advertising exec. leads new Harrisburg franchisee

Rick Campomizzi. PHOTO PROVIDED 

An executive with years of experience in advertising took his career in a new direction after launching the Harrisburg franchisee of a national senior living referral agency.

Rick Campomizzi, a former sales executive at PA Media Group in Mechanicsburg and director of sales for Comcast Spotlight, knew that the next step in his career was owning his own business.

Upon researching national franchises that had yet to make a foothold in the region, he settled on Scottsdale, Arizona-based Assisted Living Locators.

Assisted Living Locators offers free consultations to families looking for a senior home facility for their loved ones. The firm’s senior living advisors research local facilities that meet the health and financial needs of their clients and take families on tours of the facilities they find.

The tours as well as face-to-face meetings with clients differentiate Assisted Living Locators from similar services, according to Campomizzi.

“I thought it was a unique business opportunity,” he said. “I was looking for something that may not have been in my area and hadn’t arrived to the fullest extent and this fit that bill.”

Campomizzi said that he expects his experience in advertising and marketing to transition well to working with families at Assisted Living Locators.

“Part of that job was to sit down with business owners and decision makers and really see what their challenges were and find opportunities based on their needs,” he said. “The discovery process and the needs analysis now translates to a family environment and trying to help families create an atmosphere that is better for their loved ones.”

Pennsylvania’s senior homes, assisted living and memory care organizations were dealt a blow in recent months thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced them to lock down their facilities and stop touring new residents.

The pandemic has also made many families wary of sending their loved ones to live in facilities.

Campomizzi expects work to be slow in the coming weeks, but he said the need for individuals to find long-term care is still present and the information available to him through Assisted Living Locators can help families choose a facility that gives them peace of mind.

“There have been homes heavily hit by the virus and there are some homes that took better measures,” he said. “It’s a learning curve.”

The Whiteboard: The best brands focus on delivering a strong brand experience

Why is McDonald’s more successful than Burger King or Wendy’s? Their food isn’t any better; their prices are about the same. Yet McDonald’s sales in 2018 dwarfed those of its rivals with over $20 billion compared to about $1.6 billion for both Wendy’s and BK. A $20 billion enterprise is certainly complicated, but a key reason for Mickie D’s success starts with their training programs.

Franchise companies like McDonald’s know that their success is only as good as what is delivered by each of their franchisees. McDonald’s has 13,000 franchises in the U.S. alone and another 17,000 in the rest of the world. So McDonald’s long ago started Hamburger University, where its new and existing franchisees receive extensive training on how to run their businesses—everything from order taking to burger flipping to running a smooth drive-thru.

At the store level, McDonald’s has training programs that are designed to train relatively unskilled workers—many of them teens in their first job—to execute the Golden Arches way and deliver an experience for the customer that is quick, pleasant and consistent from one location to the next.

Disney was one of the first companies to recognize the extent of what a brand experience could be. Long ago they saw there was far more to visiting one of their theme parks than just the thrill of the rides. They examined every aspect of the customer experience from signage at the parking lots to the placement of their trashcans. They even reinvented waiting in line with entertaining distractions that build anticipation as their patrons funnel their way toward the ride.

Between attractions, parades pop up spontaneously, actors in full character engage visitors, and live events take place every few minutes. Disney has become so good at crafting their brand experience that they created the Disney Institute to train other companies on methods to apply to their own businesses. They focus on teaching leadership, engagement and service skills—each one important to running a business, but equally crucial for creating a great experience for the customer.

Starbucks has more than once closed all its stores to conduct remedial training when they felt that they had lost focus. In one case, it was about how to sharpen their customer service experiences. They retrained their baristas to handle one order at a time and maintain the full process that goes into creating the perfect latte, cappuccino, or macchiato. Last year, Starbucks shut down again and held racial bias training for all its employees after an incident at one of their locations.

Many brands make claims that their customer experience is superior, but far fewer follow through with continual training and attention to the details of their service the way McDonalds, Disney and Starbucks do. Each has taken a different approach—Mickie D’s is all about consistency, time after time and store after store. Disney is masterful at multi-faceted experiences that are fun and fulfilling and can last for days. Starbucks is adept at making each customer feel personally tended to and not part of an assembly line of coffee cups.

While many other elements make these brands successful, their constant attention to training and their excellent brand experiences have helped make them leaders in their industries for decades.

David Taylor is president of Lancaster-based Taylor Brand Group, which specializes in brand development and marketing technology. Contact him via www.taylorbrandgroup.com.

Blaze Pizza chain planning three Harrisburg-area locations

Fast-growing California pizza chain Blaze Pizza, which has basketball player LeBron James among its investors, has signed a three-store franchise deal in the Harrisburg area, the company’s first foray into Central Pennsylvania.

A seasoned Lehigh Valley franchise team known as Saaya Pizza Inc. will open the three midstate restaurants, though leases and timelines for opening specific locations are still being worked out.

According to a news release from the group – which also runs franchise locations for brands like Planet Fitness and Dunkin Donuts – the first Blaze Pizza location will be in Dauphin County. Officials said the goal is to be up and running the first one by the end of the year.

“We’ve had our eyes on Blaze Pizza since its inception, and we’re amazed by the brand’s rapid growth and push toward innovation,” said Milan Dilsania, part of Saaya along with Sonak Patel, Dharmesh Patel and Rishabh Mandavia.

Fast-casual pizza has become one of the fastest-growing categories of food in recent years. And other chains, like Mod Pizza, have been targeting Central Pennsylvania for expansion of their made-to-order approaches.

Blaze Pizza has 300 restaurants in 42 states and five countries. It was recently named brand of the year and the top fast and serious franchise by Franchise Times. The chain’s closest restaurants to Harrisburg are in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas.

Each Blaze Pizza location features an open kitchen that allows guests to customize a pizza from the chain’s menu or create their own. The pizzas are then sent to an oven to be fast-fired and are ready to eat in three minutes. In addition to pizza, Blaze offers salads, house-made lemonade and s’more pies.

Blaze Pizza restaurants are typically 2,200 square feet to 3,000 square feet in size, plus an outdoor patio, and employ about 10 people.