Massachusetts-based coffee and doughnut retailer Dunkin’ Donuts will be filling the vacant area in Hokie Grill left by the closing of Cinnabon earlier this semester.
The restaurant was expected to open in mid-October, but according to Brian Grove, associate director of Dining Services, that date may be pushed back by a week due to contract issues.
"We have a target date of Oct. 15. We're a little bit delayed; I'd say it’s probably more likely to be Oct. 22,” Grove said.
"We knew we had a tight window, we knew that we weren't going to get Dunkin’ on the first day of school. We knew that going in," Grove said. "(It's) inconvenient to the students, we understand. But (Cinnabon) wasn't a major dining facility, where if we took it offline, a student couldn't eat. It's more of a novelty shop.”
According to Grove, the decision to transition from a Cinnabon to a Dunkin’ Donuts was a choice made by the students.
“The Cinnabon contract was up at the end of last school year, (and) we didn't have a desire to go back into Cinnabon again. We went to (the Dining Services) Student Advisory Committee, and asked them what they'd like to see,” Grove said. “We threw Dunkin' Donuts out as a possibility, and they really wanted to have a one.”
Dining Services was pleased with the decision, as well as the versatility in food options the new shop provides. Carvel, the ice cream franchise that opened four years ago at Tech and operates next to the former Cinnabon location in Hokie Grill, will remain, though in a limited capacity.
"We basically didn't want to get rid of the Carvel brand, because we like Carvel ice cream. We still offer the cakes, the novelties," Grove said.
Staff have already been hired by Dining Services to manage the Dunkin' Donuts location, most of whom are currently working in other dining halls on campus.
“Key people have already gone to training in Boston and up in New York as well, and have received all the corporate training,” said Grove. “They're ready to go in training the staff, and Dunkin’ also brings in corporate trainers the week of, and the opening week as well, working side by side.”
Operation hours are currently scheduled to run from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, though a change in that schedule is not out of the question.
“Dunkin' Donuts has told us late night operations are pretty popular with the students, so we'll look at it and see the demand on that,” Grove said. “Students opinions count, so we'll look at that and evaluate it, and see about Saturday operations."
The Virginia Tech branch of the eatery is one of 10 new locations being opened on college campuses this fall.
“Universities turn to Dunkin' Donuts to provide a valuable amenity for the entire school community and an important incentive to attract students,” said Grant Benson, vice president of franchising at Dunkin’ Brands.
Student reaction to the switch has been positive. Most students have shown interest in Dunkin’ Donuts’ more popular offerings.
“Dunkin’ Donuts will be cool. I don’t think there has really been a good doughnut place around before,” said Brian Halvorsen, a freshman engineering major. “I’m happy having a morning doughnut place right on campus”
Some prefer the change, citing disappointment with the Carvel.
“I like Dunkin’ Donuts, because I like doughnuts better, and they have coffee,” said Morgan Curry, a senior accounting major. “Cinnabon just wasn’t appealing to me.”
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