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Dunkin Donuts as a Third Space in Jacksonville?

Founded in 1950, Canton, MA-based Dunkin' Donuts has grown into a global company with more than 10,000 restaurants in 32 countries and $6.4 billion in annual sales. However, RYAD Ventures, LLC, a Jacksonville franchisee, has created a new prototype intended to transform their locations into "Third Space" atmospheres.

Published February 15, 2013 in Dining & Nightlife      14 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


Defining The Third Space

The third place (also known as Third Space) is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace. In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989, 1991) argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.

Oldenburg calls one's "first place" the home and those that one lives with. The "second place" is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are "anchors" of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. Oldenburg suggests the following hallmarks of a true "third place":

- Free or inexpensive

- Food and drink, while not essential, are important

- Highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance)

- Involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there

- Welcoming and comfortable

- Both new friends and old should be found there.


On January 31, 2013, Metro Jacksonville's board was given the opportunity to tour RYAD Ventures, LLC.'s prototype Dunkin' Donuts & Baskin Robbins at 5150 West University Boulevard.

RYAD Ventures, LLC. is owned and operated by Ryan Ali and Addision Ames.  After working for Ryan's father, who according to Stephen Dare has a hella lot of Dunkin Donuts, the two are equal partners who created what they've coined as the first Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins combo that is also a Third Space.

Prior to RYAD's 2011 purchase, this location used to fry their pastries, creating the need for heavy ventilation and other equipment.  Once RYAD made the decision to invest in new technology, new equipment required one sixth of the former footprint to make the same product.  The extra space dilemma resulted in the creation of a prototype model transforming the structure into a "Third Space" environment and possibly paving the path for more locations in the chain to follow suit.

The 3,813-square foot structure, originally built in 2002, was remodeled and divided into two separate spaces. One for the new Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins prototype and a second for a separate tenant. Determined to make their business a destination, the remodeled interior features a bright inviting color scheme, several electrical outlets, comfortable seating, a digital menu board displaying nutrition information and a conference room.

Priced at $15 per hour or $100 per day and offering 10% discounts on pastries, the conference room has become a popular destination for many. An anomaly for a fast food restaurant, the room which was added so that people could hang out, has even attracted one local family that reserves the space every Thursday evening for "movie night."

RYAD now regrets not having built more than one private space in their model. Furthermore, several new items have been added, including new Dark Hot Chocolate, a French Toast Bagel, a Maple Bacon Donut, a Turkey Sausage Breakfast Sandwich, and gluten free pastries.

RYAD plans to expand their Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins concept to as many as five additional locations throughout Jacksonville over the next couple of years.  When asked by Metro Jacksonville about the prospect of a new 24/7 prototype location in the urban core, Addision Ames mentioned Five Points and Springfield as intriging locations. According to Ames, one stumbling block that an urban core location must overcome is their need for a drive thru. Corporate has also taken notice by visiting the store last week to evaluate the possibility of it being a pilot for a new model.

Article by Metro Jacksonville

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February 15, 2013, 07:52:02 AM
Interesting but I can't see myself saying "Gotta go hang out at Dunkin Donuts!". I don't drink coffee but I've heard that people like their brand but I cannot honestly ever recall buying their donuts. I've eaten them, sure but it's always because someone else brought them. They aren't bad but they certainly don't make me want to spend a lot of time at the place.


February 15, 2013, 08:20:08 AM
We need one Downtown! screw Starbucks...i want my DD.


February 15, 2013, 08:31:14 AM
Their coffee is better than Starbucks


February 15, 2013, 09:38:14 AM
DD has made a comback as of late.

I had given up on them when they were pretty much roach motels back in the 80's.

We used to joke that if you needed a cop past midnight, just drive over to DD instead of dialing 911. Faster response time.


February 15, 2013, 10:40:49 AM
Really interesting concept, but in order to thrive as a third space, I think DD will need to find a way to offer a wider variety of healthy choices. I'm not adverse to "habitually congregating" at Dunkin Donuts, but with so much health information out there these days, it's hard to justify making such high saturated fat intake a regular part of your week. Give me more soups, salads, smoothies, sandwiches, etc. and I'd be a regular though.

Non-RedNeck Westsider

February 15, 2013, 10:47:27 AM
Ken, I haven't been in a bit, but I'm pretty sure that they do offer several low-cal, low-carb healthy 'er' choices at their standalone stores.


February 15, 2013, 11:29:19 AM
If they are trying to go after a more "Starbucks" type of environment, where people go to just hang out, study, read, etc., then they should:

- Focus more on their coffee and add healthier options.
- Consider a name change to "Dunkin's" and a less offensive color palate.
- With dropping "Donuts" from their name, they should also drop having the "KenTacoHut" syndrome of having multiple brands under one roof. Instead of Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robins under one roof, it should just be "Dunkin's" and they should just happen to serve Baskin Robins.
- Open in more urban, walkable communities instead of a focus on suburban, drive thru locales.

Just my opinion and two cents.


February 15, 2013, 11:38:39 AM
Interesting..............the one on Hendrixs at San Marco used to tell us we should have called ahead if we ordered more than a dozen. So we planned ahead and bought  pastries for the office from Paneras in the burbs and coffee from Starbucks in San Marco.  It appears to me that Starbucks or Paneras are more of a gathering place in Mandarin/st Johns. 

Duncan Doughnuts has opened up at the old Lubis location on Sunbeam but the location isn't the best and I'm tainted by the managers "call ahead" remarks at San Marco. I won't be gathering there.


February 15, 2013, 11:47:09 AM
The San Marco location on Hendricks would need a full remodel to become a Third Space.  Need to get rid of the cold stark McDonalds-style and embrace the warm Starbucks-style interior. 


February 15, 2013, 01:11:22 PM
Only 1/3 of the comments are very positive thus far, seems the product/s or the two chains suffer from a image problem. Food isn't right, too sweet, too salty, too fat and the interior is the wrong color, wrong size or wrong layout. Overall it seems like a good idea to me but until Dunkin offers a carmel frap with soy milk, or Krispy Kreme, cream filled donuts, my wife will be the only occasional customer from my household.


February 15, 2013, 02:43:40 PM
Count me in as one preferring DD to Starbucks. DD has the best coffee IMO and it's an every day thing when I'm traveling for work... especially in the NE where DD are Literally on every corner. 

Really interesting concept, but in order to thrive as a third space, I think DD will need to find a way to offer a wider variety of healthy choices. I'm not adverse to "habitually congregating" at Dunkin Donuts, but with so much health information out there these days, it's hard to justify making such high saturated fat intake a regular part of your week. Give me more soups, salads, smoothies, sandwiches, etc. and I'd be a regular though.

They do have low cal / low carb selections on the menu

Adam W

February 15, 2013, 02:47:45 PM
I always preferred 7-Eleven coffee to Dunkin Donuts coffee, though I think Dunkin Donuts would probably offer a better option as a "third space".


February 15, 2013, 03:29:43 PM
They do have low cal / low carb selections on the menu

Looking over the "health smart" menu, it's a pretty limited selection though, consisting of one muffin (at 400 calories!), one multi-grain bagel (with as many carbs as two slices of Dominos pizza combined), oatmeal, and a handful of breakfast based egg flatbreads and sandwiches. Personally speaking, there's nothing on the menu that would make me want to grab my iPad and seek out a Dunkin Donuts as a place to have lunch or dinner and hang out. Get breakfast on my way to work? Absolutely. But to spend time in as a third place like I would at a Panera Bread, Au Bon Pain, or even a Starbucks, probably not. It's just too breakfast oriented. You can only eat so much egg and sausage. Like I mentioned previously, add some high quality soups and salads (nothing fancy, even Wendys enjoyed incredible success after adding a few premium salads), utilize their baking equipment to produce some good artistan breads (rather than serving everything on a bagel or english muffin), and even add a few pastries that aren't necessarily bland, one-note donuts or softball sized muffins and I'm all in :)


February 15, 2013, 04:38:05 PM
Actually healthy eating wise there were a number of options for me.  Im on a no bad cholesterol, vegan, lower carb, kind of a diet and there were options there for me.  Plus they will custom make your food if you ask.

When Lake and TheCat and I ate there, I couldnt have any of the breakfast foods, but there was an assortment of pretty healthy food in the cases for me.  Oatmeal cookies, whole grain muffins, etc.

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