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Jun 11, 2014 01:28 PM

First Dunkin' Donuts Lands in Santa Monica

From LA Eater: a tipster writes in to say that construction workers were prepping the old HairCutters' spot on the corner of 12th and Wilshire in Santa Monica for a "Dunkin' Donuts."

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  1. You just made my day! Thanks for the great news.

    1. The question is: Is their coffee anything special?

      14 Replies
      1. re: mc michael

        believe it or not, on the east coast they really are more a coffee business than aint starbucks or coffeebean, it's these guys. But to answer your question directly, no, it's an acquired taste.

        1. re: jessejames

          When you say, "it's an acquired taste", what is the issue? Odd flavor? How so?

          How are the donuts?

          1. re: SilverlakeGirl

            it's just not the HQ stuff folks out here are used to...but made from grounds...just think more Maxwell house or folgers.

            I like the donuts. esp the cake blueberry muffin flavored one and the glazed chocolate cake, and the ones with the crunchies all around....then again, I like donuts too....

            1. re: SilverlakeGirl

              I grew up with Dunkin Donuts.

              Their Big Gulp-sized ice coffee was my rocket fuel for pre-dawn fishing trips. I also love their old fashioned cake donuts.

              That being said, this is "factory food." Don't go in expecting anything to be hand crafted or made with any sort of care.

              The coffee is better than the majority of east coast diner coffee but pales in comparison to mass market stuff like Starbucks - I'm not kidding. As jessejames pointed out, their coffee is like a decent cup of Maxwell House, meaning that it's not swill but it ain't Stumptown, either.

              I'm guessing that west coast branches of DD will lure in nostalgic east coast transplants, while California natives will likely be left wondering what all the fuss is about.

              On the other hand, the comparisons to Winchell's are off. I've yet to visit a Winchell's that was anything other than filthy and their coffee tastes like dishwater. The DDs I've patronized have always been spotless and the (mediocre) coffee is always fresh.

              1. re: JeMange

                In MA, I also grew up with DD. I don't think they are going for an artisan or "hand-crafted" feel, so I don't know why you'd even bring the factory food thing up. And I hardly think that DD execs are rolling the dice coming here to target east coast transplants. DD has cultivated the same kinds of Starbuck's hot and cold coffee selections and that's their same market: everyone. Long before Starbuck's was even a concept, there were successful Dunkin Donut shops. More than one Starbuck's employee has said that they over-roast their beans and make the coffee super strong because that's what people expect from them. It's a very simple recipe.

          2. re: mc michael

            nope. heard all this craze about their coffee, got one as soon as I landed in NJ. First words out of my mouth - WTF

            1. re: ns1

              Well, that was an epiphany, just not the one you were hoping for. :)

              1. re: ns1

                ns1, you have to put Dunkin Donuts coffee in context. DD has been a fixture the northeast for a couple of generations.

                Remember, in the pre-Starbucks era, the coffee landscape was bleak. Stale, bitter black water was de rigeur.

                Yet in those days when nobody cared about their coffee, DD did. They regularly brewed fresh pots throughout the day. (Perhaps someone alive and drinking during the 60s and 70s can attest to whether they ground their beans freshly... my understanding is that they did, which if its true was absurdly far ahead of its day.)

                In any case, that's how they earned the well-deserved reputation for their coffee. It's a different landscape now, to be certain, but reputations die hard, and New Englanders never forgot that for decades DD was pretty much the only reliable place to get a fresh, decent tasting cup of coffee.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  Another thing to keep in mind, is that in New England, where Dunkin is originally from, a "regular" coffee is a cream/two sugars which is what you'll get at Dunkin if you just ask for a coffee. I know it shocked a few of my friends who traveled out to the east coast and were so excited to try dunkin coffee (like my brother) and they ended up with a super sweet, milky coffee...


                      1. re: Dommy

                        It used to be the same in NYC and surrounding areas when I was a kid. "Regular coffee" = cream and two sugars, which always confused the heck out of me since I grew up in a black coffee/no sugar household.

                        I used to have to order my coffee "black, no sugar" and still catch myself doing it sometimes.

                  1. re: mc michael

                    I respectfully and strongly disagree with jessejames. Coming from MA, I will tell you that DD started out as a donut shop chain. A very good donut shop chain where coffee was an after thought, as it is at most New England donut shops. And the coffee in a New England donut shop has always been good, no the Farmer's Bros. garbage served out here. DD brilliantly jumped on the Starbuck's craze, but still makes great donuts. They are not more a coffee business than donuts anymore than Starbuck's is more of a snacks and pastry shop. DD is 50/50 on both items. Forget the little skinny jokes they call donuts at Krispy Kreme. I could not believe after all the hype over them, how unimpressed I was.

                  2. They are also opening locations in Downey, Whittier and Long Beach this year. My hubby is very excited because he lived in NJ for several years before moving here and he misses their coffee. Making it at home isn't the same! LOL

                    1. you mean, "first dunkin donuts returns to socal"

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: ns1

                        There is a dunkin donuts at Barstow Station. It is putrid just like the rest of them.

                        1. re: ns1

                          Yes exactly…First in SoCal….

                          1. re: wienermobile

                            No, ns1 has it right "return to So Cal" like from the 70s on...

                            The story is much adieu incorrectly.

                            1. re: JThur01

                              Nope, there was one in the Pico/Robertson in the mid 90's, briefly. They were way smart - they made it kosher to fit in to the neighborhood!

                              I used to buy bags of their coffee, whole bean, then grind it at my office for the crew. It was much enjoyed, more oomph than say Maxwell House, but gentler almost creamier than french roast.

                              1. re: happybaker

                                Not sure what the "nope" is about

                                1. re: ns1

                                  The "nope" is that it's not the first ever in SoCal. Just the first of the new 2014 wave.

                                  Weinermobile is awesome, passionate and smart, but he can't be everywhere, all the time, for minutia, and I just happened to live in that area at the time.

                                  1. re: happybaker

                                    Actually, the first in So Cal goes back much further than the future :-) They were around even before the 80s, there just were more of them around So Cal then.

                                    1. re: JThur01

                                      Or, to put it another way. There were quite a few DD's around So Cal back before next month, though before back then, there were fewer...though still more than right now :-)

                        2. The thing about their coffee was they had a standing rule which they would throw out a pot after a certain time and make a fresh one. And in the 70s and 80s that was revolutionary in coffee which is where the got the rep. Now with all the coffee options, not so much. With their central baking set up, the donuts don't hold a candle to any you can get at any corner donut shop in LA. They no longer make the original Dunkin Donut, the donut with the handle, since it needs to be hand formed.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                            Maybe munchkins (selection of donut holes). Crowd pleaser.

                            1. re: jessejames

                              Blueberry munchkins and a coffee sounds like more than a few college mornings to me

                              1. re: Tyus4pt8

                                Those paper boxes with handles on them at elementary school events too. No coffee.