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Sunday, April 18, 2021

In Market: The comeback of a good ol’ cup of coffee

A cup of joe

For Joe Lunchpail

Java junkies may be rejoicing the news that Dunkin’ Donuts is planning to expand in North Texas.

Unlike Starbucks and similar haute caffeine cuisine cafes, Dunkin’ Donuts serves the coffee and donut of the working man. Want a bear claw? Come on in. Have a couple.

Unpretentious, straightforward and providing that java jolt needed for people who work with their hands – that’s Dunkin’ Donuts. This is not the coffee shop for those working on the latest corporate PowerPoint presentation.

I should know. I spent a good chunk of my high school and college career sipping the dark nectar of the procrastination gods. At the Dunkin’ Donuts shop located then on West Berry near Paschal. I wore out a pink stool or two. My routine was to throw my paper route, then head to the donut shop to stake out a seat and read some more of The Scarlet Letter as I got a java jolt and waited for class to begin. When I went to college, the donut shop was handily located close to the TCU campus.

Of course, I was easy prey for any conversation with a cop, a drunk, a runaway or a bored waitress who could divert me from a riveting theme paper I was writing about dialectical materialism and its influence on 20th century poetry. Let me know if you want a copy.

Waitresses, I learned at an early age, always had interesting lives and irresistible but terrible boyfriends. “And then there was Leroy,” she would say with a combination of stars in her eyes and a sigh. “He was great when he wasn’t drinking.” Then there would be a pause. “Which was ne-ver.”

I was a good customer. I could help out in an emergency. I helped restrain a drunk who walked through the shop’s plate glass window and attempted to stagger away. Waitresses who had to run home to check on a sick child could depend on me to pour coffee for other customers. These were the days before every retail establishment would Big Brother employees and customers alike, obviously.

When I got a summer job in Washington, D.C., there were no Dunkin’ Donuts in that area at the time. So my buddies at the Fort Worth Dunkin’ Donuts sent me Dunkin’ coffee to make for myself and friends. This was long before Dunkin’ Donuts was “branding” itself: by selling coffee in grocery stores. Branding then was something you did to cattle.

If you feel a little donut déjà vu when you read the news about Dunkin’ Donuts expanding, you’re not in a caffeine coma. If you’re saying, “Wait a blueberry muffin minute, didn’t Dunkin’ announce a deal with Jerry Jones and football god Troy Aikman a few years back to open more bear claw-serving locations in Cowtown?” Right you are, caffeine commentator. But earlier this year, Dunkin’ apparently poured that deal down the drain after only a few openings. The suits – even those with stars on their helmets – just couldn’t make it work.

Working man coffee is coming, just in time for Trump to bring all those manufacturing jobs back home, too. If the suits can make it work this time, that is.

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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