Chicago will welcome the 500th Dunkin’ Donuts location Saturday, with a grand opening to celebrate the beloved doughnut and coffee shop.
The doors to the new location opened on the city’s South Side last month, almost 50 years after the launch of the original Chicago franchise, which still maintains a healthy existence in West Rogers Park.
Viral Savani co-owner and manager of the milestone store said that the new location has already generated a substantial amount of buzz, and that a handful of regular customers have dubbed his store “the hangout.”
Savani feels that offering free wi-fi in a neighborhood with a limited number of wi-fi options may be a big reason that the store has proved to be so popular in its first couple of weeks.
“People used to bring their newspapers to the café, but now everything is digital, so you have to offer those kinds of services,” Savani said. “It took us two-and-a-half or three years to get the deal going and everyone was literally waiting for the store to open, so there has been a lot of excitement.”
The new 2000-square-foot store at 3206 W 111th Street features several brand new amenities exclusive to the new location including free wi-fi, video-based menu boards, an updated color scheme and environmentally friendly design elements like low-flow faucets, water efficient toilets, and high efficiency LED light fixtures.
New food items debuted at the landmark store as well introducing some healthy alternatives to all those carb-heavy doughnuts. The “grab & go” case will be stocked with refrigerated goodies like yogurt, hummus, cheese sticks and fruit cups. But don’t worry, some high calorie treats are being added too. Blueberry lemon and chocolate stuffed chocolate chip muffins will all appear on the menu for the first time alongside other new items like Bavarian cream filled croissants and dark hot chocolate.
“These items are being tested at the new store,” said Carrie Reckert, marketing contact for Dunkin’ Donuts. “If successful, [the new items] will expand to other locations.”
Reckert said that the green design and construction elements at the new location are also being considered for pre-existing locations and will be rolled out at future locations.
Before becoming co-owner of this cutting-edge store, Viral Savani endured years of hard work. He immigrated to the US from India ten years ago to help out his uncle Sam Savani, who co-owns the new location and owns three other Chicago area Dunkin’ Donuts franchises.
“I was still in high school, but I was working for him in the evenings and on the weekends, and he taught me everything,” Savani said. “Whenever he left for vacation, he gave me all the responsibilities.”
So when Dunkin’ Donuts approached Savani’s uncle Sam about opening up a corner store on the south side to be the 500th Chicago Store, Sam jumped at the chance and turned to his nephew to fill the role of co-owner.
“I’m very excited. This is the future, and I feel confident that the new design and colors are going to work well,” Savani said. “It’s good. Something new is always good.”
Savani says the customer base is great in Chicago because the weather is perfect for coffee. He and his uncle hope to continually expand their Dunkin’ Donuts franchises and to open up at least one new store every year.
Saturday’s grand opening celebration will offer a slew of free give aways and will be attended by notable Chicagoans like Benny the Bull, the Luvabulls, Bulls radio broadcasters Bill Wennington and Chuck Swirsky and B96’s J, Julian and Showbiz Shelly.
The first 500 customers will get a Dunkin’ Donuts mug and a $2 gift card, and everyone that attends the grand opening will have a chance to win one of five $100 Dunkin’ Donuts gifts cards, two pairs of Bulls tickets, two pairs of Blackhawk tickets and a Pepsi bike.