BLUE HILL, Maine — America runs on Dunkin’, and soon, the Blue Hill peninsula will too.
The owners of Tradewinds Market on South Street have a plan in hand to build and open a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise across the street from their flagship grocery store. The quick-coffee and donut joint will be owned and operated by the MacDonald family, of Clifton, who operate six other franchise Dunkin’ Donuts in Maine.
For Chuck Lawrence, who co-owns Tradewinds with his wife, Belinda, it’s a plan more than a decade in the making.
When he opened the grocery story 13 years ago, he planned to incorporate a Dunkin’ Donuts. But back then, fresh-baked doughnuts were delivered to each store by truck every day, and Blue Hill was too far off the route.
“I get weekly, sometimes daily questions about how soon Dunkin’ Donuts will be here,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said the franchise will be owned and operated by the MacDonald family, whose patriarch, Robert MacDonald, opened the first Dunkin’ in Bangor nearly 50 years ago. Now, MacDonald’s son, Bruce, and his family operate two franchises in Brewer, and one each in Orrington, Eddington, Holden and Milo.
Bruce MacDonald said the company’s bakery model has changed since Tradewinds opened. Now, he said, doughnuts are baked each morning in each franchise instead of at a central bakery. That opened up the possibility for a franchise in Blue Hill.
MacDonald said his son, Joe MacDonald, will operate the Blue Hill location. His son will move from Bangor to Blue Hill, where his wife already works, MacDonald said. He said he anticipates the franchise will employ 15-18 people.
The Dunkin’ Donuts would be Blue Hill’s second franchise business, after the Subway located in Tradewinds. MacDonald said he’s sensitive to Blue Hill’s idyllic village identity, the defense of which sometimes pits developers against a vocal group of residents opposed to any changes in the small coastal town. He said his family is involved in every community they work in.
“We’re local people and we support the communities we’re in,” he said. “We don’t take the money and run out state.”
Lawrence said he has also been careful to ensure the 4,000-square-foot development — which will include space for two other business suites — will blend in with Blue Hill’s village aesthetic. He hired local architect William McHenry to design the building. McHenry said he’s shooting for a more residential feel for the Dunkin’ Donuts.
“I’m trying to do something of a more residential scale,” McHenry said Wednesday. “I’m looking at the older commercial buildings in Blue Hill, with steep roofs, wide trim, residential-size windows. The colors are toned down.”
McHenry said the building also will feature landscaped features at either end, which will keep the building from looking too commercial.
As for the tenants in the two other business suites in the building, Lawrence said nothing has been pinned down just yet, though he’s in talks with a pro golf shop and SaraSara’s, a local clothing boutique that was forced to vacate its downtown location when a car struck the building in September.
The Lawrences’ proposal will be taken up by the Blue Hill Planning Board on Monday, Jan. 14, said Blue Hill Code Enforcement Officer Judy Jenkins. The proposal includes traffic studies and plans to direct expected heavy morning traffic off-street, behind the building, so as not to create congestion on South Street.
Jenkins also said she expected to see some resistance to the proposal from a handful of residents, but didn’t see any reason why the development wouldn’t ultimately be approved by the town.
Lawrence and MacDonald hope to break ground on the building in February and have Dunkin’ Donuts open by June or July.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.