The South End Doesn't Run on Dunkin'

Controversy has been brewing (sorry, couldn’t resist) in the 02118 for months over a proposed 3,000 square-foot Dunkin’ Donuts shop at 655 Tremont Street — and earlier this week, the developer, Clayton Turbull, withdrew his request for variance to serve food at the location (it’s currently zoned for retail, not food service, according to

“We are not going to pursue this because the landlord folded after being bombarded by the same folks again and again,” Turnbull told “These people shutdown the project without giving us a chance. I would call it neighborhood bullying.”

More than 300 people signed the online petition started by the Voices for Fair Commercial Development in the South End. Among the group’s reasons for blocking the fast food franchise? “The zoning codes are in place for good reason — it is unfair to add another restaurant this block, which already has a high density of food establishments and associated issues with trash, parking, etc.”

A quick Google map search shows the following eateries in the immediate area: Tremont 647, Yummee Chinese, and Nicole’s Pizza. Oh, and a Starbucks down the street at 627 Tremont.

Crowds and double-parking around Dunk’s can be a headache, especially in densely populated areas at rush hour (don’t get me started on the store at the corner of 28 and Third Street in Cambridge, the eye of the caffeine-crazed storm each and every morning). But I can’t help but think that it would have been nice to offer foot traffic a choice in coffee shop, considering that Dunkin’ can be cheaper than Starbucks, depending on your order*. And although it’s a chain, it’s a local chain — similar to Upper Crust Pizza a few blocks away at 683 Tremont.

*Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this post, I wrote that Dunkin’ Donuts was cheaper than Starbucks across the board because I compared apples to apples; that is to say, I visited a few local shops (in Somerville and close to the Boston magazine office) and compared the price of Starbucks’ venti brewed coffee (20 oz.) to the Dunkin’ Donuts’ large coffee (20 oz.) The Starbucks venti is $2.25 and the Dunkin’ large is $2.09. Dunkin’ can also be cheaper when it comes to espresso drinks like the latte: $2.59 for a medium latte (16 oz.) at the Dunkin’ Donuts at 283 Huntington Ave., compared to $3.55 for a grande latte (16 oz.) at the Starbucks at 273 Huntington Ave.

However, I stopped by both Huntington Avenue shops this morning and found that Starbucks is indeed cheaper when it comes to other sizes of brewed coffee: A tall Starbucks coffee (12 oz.) is $1.50, while a small Dunkin’ coffee (10 oz.) is $1.55. A grande Starbucks coffee (16 oz.) is $1.95, while a medium Dunkin’ coffee (14 oz.) is $1.85 – that’s roughly 12 cents an ounce for the Starbucks coffee and 13 cents for the Dunkin’ coffee at that size.

Obviously, prices vary somewhat by store and location. And, thank you, commenters for pointing out the discrepancy. I drink ventis, and assumed the rest of the world did, too.