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Donuts await customers at the new downtown location of Dunkin Donuts on opening day, Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

Julia Hansen/Staff Photographer

A latte to look forward to: Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins opens on Elm Street

All your favorite kinds of snacks are now in one place.

By Nat Kaemmerer | April 4, 2017

Tags: Downtown Columbia Food

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Perk up, caffeine lovers. A combination Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins opened at 821 Elm St., first for a soft opening March 28 and officially Tuesday.

“[March 28] around 1 p.m. we unlocked the doors,” Dunkin’ Donuts multi-unit leader Joshua Palmer said. “We didn’t announce anything, we just let people in.”

The store has been open unofficially all week as a result of construction being done early.

“It’s been very busy, with a lot of college students,” Palmer said.

Dunkin’ Donuts already had another Columbia location at 3100 S. Providence Road, which is harder to get to for students and residents without cars.

“Our first location is doing excellent, and we want to expand to make Dunkin'/Baskin more accessible to the community,” local franchisee Anup Thakkar said in an email. “We have put tremendous effort in designing our downtown location to cater to the specific needs of the area.”

Monday, the day before the grand opening, students were already taking advantage of the new space and studying at tables around the store. Most tables are close to power outlets, and the store offers free Wi-Fi.

“We wanted to make it a place for college kids to help you have a nice place to study,” Palmer said.

Palmer is from Dunkin’ Donuts’ corporate operation and is in town to help with the setup of the downtown location.

“There are a lot of parties involved in the process of setting up the restaurant,” Thakkar said in an email. “These include the franchise, construction company, architects and others. I worked with Origin Construction in the development of this second location, and they have done a fantastic job understanding the franchise requirements.”

To promote the grand opening, the store will be using print advertising, a costumed character, travel mug giveaways, couponing and a news release, Thakkar said in an email.

“We’re doing a lot more [free] sampling,” manager Stephanie Knedler said. “We want to draw attention to what we have to offer and give customers a chance to try something they usually don’t.”

They are also trying to get more people to sign up for DDPerks, Knedler said. DDPerks is an app that allows customers to earn points toward drinks, order ahead and keep track of past orders.

Knedler is keeping an eye on crowd sizes to best schedule employees. The store is currently still hiring.

Caffeine-lovers can stop downtown and check out the latest coffee option, complete with a Baskin Robbins inside. The downtown location is open Sunday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“I’m excited to be downtown,” Knedler said. “It’s a new adventure for us.”

Edited by Katherine White | kwhite@themaneater.com

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