Doughnut Invasion on the Horizon

If doughnut and coffee chains seem to be popping up everywhere in the greater Buffalo area, just wait. All three of the doughnut giants - Krispy Kreme, Tim Horton's, and Dunkin' Donuts, intend to expand their number of franchises threefold in the coming years.

While Krispy Kreme will only be opening a couple of new locations in the next two years, Tim Horton's and Dunkin' Donuts are opening a slew of new stores as the corporations realize the appetite for doughnuts and thirst for coffee in the Buffalo-Niagara market.

Within the next few years, Tim Horton's plans to double the number of stores in the region to 60 or 70. Dunkin' Donuts has opened three new locations and wants to add more. North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme is currently scouting for an area to open its next doughnut shop.

But does Buffalo's appetite for doughnuts justify the number of new stores in the area? Customers and managers think so.

"I'm there every morning," said Scott Woodard, a Tonawanda resident who frequents the Krispy Kreme on Niagara Falls Boulevard, "with a bunch of other regulars who come everyday, no matter what. Some people leave 45 minutes early just to get their doughnuts and coffee. I don't think they'd mind a store a little closer."

Chuck Amadeo, who manages the Tim Horton's on Walden Avenue, believes that additional stores will continue the success of the existing franchise.

"We did a little over a million dollars in revenue last year," said Amadeo. "I can't see how people won't use stores that are closer."

The locations of these doughnut distributors range from nearly every service station on the I-90 to inside a local chapel. Included in the plans for the newly erected church of the Eastern Hills Weslyan was an "in-house" Tim Horton's.

"I wasn't fond of the idea in the beginning, but now I feel that it gives us more of an opportunity to get together and have a cup of coffee with the people we worship with, it makes our congregation a tighter community," said JoAnne, a resident of Williamsville and a parishioner of the church who asked that her last name be withheld.

It would seem that three corporations expanding at this pace, and doling out similar products would oversaturate the market, but each is confident that their stores will find their own niche.

Dunkin' Donuts believes its larger menu of coffees and non-doughnut items will keep it out of financial trouble. "Dunkin' Donuts offers its customers more of a variety than that of some other local shops. We present a wide variety of coffees as well as sandwiches, bagels, muffins, Munchkins, cookies, and of course doughnuts," said one manager of a local Dunkin' Donuts. "This is part of the reason why our market in Buffalo is expanding so rapidly - the need for variety."

While Dunkin' Donuts is the leader in national sales, it is quite clear that Buffalo is Tim Horton's territory. The local favorite has plans of opening nine more locations in the coming year. This Canadian-based success story offers 1,900 locations in Canada and 130 in the United States, with clear intentions of increasing that number exponentially.

The staff at the Walden Avenue Tim Horton's attributes their popularity to two factors: their menu and their hours. Tim Horton's offers a menu ranging from breakfast to midnight snacks. Tim Horton's, they say, is not just a doughnut shop; it's a complete restaurant with locations nearly on every corner.

Krispy Kreme is a phenomenon that no one thought would last. The company exploded onto the Buffalo scene last year and sold over $2 million in revenue, according to the manager of the Krispy Kreme on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

Krispy Kreme Inc. feels the most promising area for their new location is on Walden Avenue, across from the Walden Galleria Mall, but there is also the possibility of construction of another in the West Seneca area. This shop is scheduled to be up in June 2002.

The idea behind Krispy Kreme is for their customers to have a different experience than at their competitors. Krispy Kreme creates and bakes its doughnuts in front of customers' eyes, and has fresh doughnuts throughout the day. The company also feels that the enormous popularity of its "original glazed" doughnut is enough to keep customers coming back.

So is Buffalo ready for the doughnut invasion? The answer to that question remains to be seen, but companies like Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' Donuts, and Tim Horton's are banking on it.