Dunkin Donuts as a Third Space in Jacksonville?

February 15, 2013 13 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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.

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.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_place

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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