Everybody knows the three keys to success in commercial real estate.

Location. Location. Location.

Recently, on Jan. 21 to be exact, Dunkin’ opened its latest Lebanon County location. Situated on Route 322, at the border between Lebanon and Dauphin County, the new location is just a stone’s throw away from Campbelltown, within shouting distance of Palmyra, and – depending upon which way the wind is blowing – close enough to Hershey to catch that famous chocolate aroma.

“Deep down in my heart, I want to be part of the community,” said B.J. Patel, franchise owner of the 101 North Larkspur Drive location. “We want to create jobs for youngsters in the community, and we want them to have a good environment to work in. We want to make sure we can help the community in any way possible. We want to be able to fit into the community. Those are the things I value.

“We want to be able to service the community by doing the right things,” Patel added. “I want this Dunkin’ to be a community Dunkin’. I want kids to be able to come home and say, ‘That’s my Dunkin’.’ We want to be able to provide good service to our guests and make them happy.”

Before becoming Lebanon County’s newest Dunkin’, the property was home to Brewster’s Ice Cream and then Just Wing It. The configuration of the building and the existence of a drive-through window made the transition to an all-drive-through and walk-up service format for the new Dunkin’ more practical and logical.

The new Dunkin does not offer dine-in services. Instead, in addition to a drive-through, it features a walk-up window.

“It was already a drive-through operation,” said Patel, a 45-year-old resident of Hershey. “Given the size of the building, there was no way to offer an eat-in option. It was impossible to do a dine-in restaurant. It was very easy to re-fit to what we wanted to do. It’s designed to be very, very efficient and very operator and user friendly.

The location’s model seems perfect for the COVID era, offering only drive-through and walk-up service, but the lack of dine-in service was unrelated to the current pandemic.

“The answer is ‘no’ (the format was unrelated to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis),” added Patel. “It was originally designed to be a drive-through restaurant. The design basically suits the COVID-19 restrictions. But after COVID-19 subsides, it will not have a dine-in option.”

Dunkin’ Donuts was founded in 1950 under the simple concept of pairing good coffee with fresh doughnuts. But over the last 70 years, the franchise’s menu has come to include 20 different flavors of coffee, ice coffees and teas, pastries, muffins, bagels, breakfast sandwiches and wraps.

Dunkin’ also sells items beyond their signature coffee such as these teas and branded thermoses.
Tap handles with different iced coffee and tea can be seen to the left as staff takes a break while LebTown’s photographer stopped by.

“We’re offering every single product that Dunkin’ offers, and everything is made right there in the store,” said Patel. “I was never a coffee drinker until I started working at Dunkin’. But as time went on, I started taking a small sip, and then another small sip, and now I always have a cup of coffee by my side. I would say that Dunkin’ coffee is the best.

“We make our doughnuts fresh,” continued Patel. “But you have to make sure they’re of the best quality for our guests. So, I’ve got to taste them to make sure. It’s called ‘quality assurance.’”

Lebanon County’s Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants are three of the 609 located in Pennsylvania. Part of the Inspire Brands family of restaurants, some 12,600 Dunkin’ Donuts are operated world-wide, in more than 40 countries.

“There’s a lot of research that goes into each location,” said Patel. “Hershey has a location and Hummelstown has one. But going towards the turnpike (on 322), we didn’t see anyone who could offer a good cup of coffee like Dunkin’s. There are a lot of people traveling to the Hershey Med Center and Hersheypark. I thought the community and us would benefit from having a Dunkin’ there. Everybody thought it would be a great fit. I think we have a great location here. And the community is great.”

The new Campbelltown/Palmyra location is the ninth Dunkin’ owned by Patel. Many of Patel’s other Dunkin’ restaurants are also located in central Pennsylvania, including the Dunkin’ at the Hershey Outlets.

“It has been a blessing,” said Patel. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but my experience with Dunkin’ has been very good. They’ve been great to work with. We’ve had nothing but great support from them. It’s been nothing but a very positive experience.

“It (the new Palmyra location) is no doubt very different from the first few we started,” Patel continued. “You know what to expect. You know what the brand expects from you. When something needs to be done, they will require you do it, and I like that. But without the brand name, you have nothing.”

Certainly franchise operations like Dunkin’ are different than those of local ‘mom and pop’ businesses offering similar services. But what they share is a commitment to the communities that they serve.

The new Dunkin’ Donuts employs 20 mostly local residents.

“When I say something, I speak from my heart,” said Patel. “Without the brand and the community, I wouldn’t be here at all. It isn’t easy. We just have to do the things we need to do. We have great teams of employees and great teams of managers. The way I look at it, my employees are my first guests. When you work here, you treat every guest as family and friend. We’re blessed to have great employees.

“I love working with the community,” concluded Patel. “I want to provide great service. There are going to be times when don’t meet expectations, and we just ask for a next chance. We take pride in what we do. There are no cutting corners. We’ll do whatever we can to make it better and make it a great experience. I don’t want to do things just for the sake of doing things.”

Because that commitment will foster loyalty, and that’s just good business.

Read More: New Dunkin’ expects to open in Campbelltown by end of year, 15-20 jobs available

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Jeff Falk is a seasoned journalist based in Lebanon, PA. He's a graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Penn State University, and a lifelong resident of Lebanon, born and raised. Currently, he is a feature writer for Engle Publishing in Lancaster, the editor of LebCoSports.com, sports director at WLBR...