Hundreds of People Lined Up for L.A.’s First Dunkin’ Donuts

You might have mistaken the opening for an iPhone release.

Dunkin’ Donuts had to feel pretty good about their decision to expand to Los Angeles this week when the grand opening of their first area store in Santa Monica saw a line of 300 people waiting overnight. Some had been there for over 24 hours. How does a coffee chain with a scant foothold in southern California suddenly get the rockstar profile of a Harry Potter debut or an iPhone release?

It might have seemed risky for Dunkin’ to reenter Los Angeles. In the 1990s, it opened about a dozen shops, but later closed them all. Californians seemed happy with their Coffee Beans and Starbucks (and probably afraid that anything with the word “doughnut” in it would kill their beach bods).

But the popularity this time around almost seemed inevitable. The L.A. Times reports that in the intervening years, “Dunkin’ has focused its marketing to expand its name recognition and emphasize that the brand serves more than doughnuts.” And of course, the company has a bunch of brand ambassadors in the form of East Coast transplants to L.A. who miss the ubiquity of the Massachusetts-based chain. The guy who was first in line on Sunday night for the Tuesday morning opening is demonstrative. KTLA reports:

A man who was the first to line up told KTLA he had been waiting outside the store since 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

“I’m originally from Connecticut, so I love Dunkin’ Donuts and I’m glad it’s in California now,” he said.

The chain offered those in line some free swag, too, which probably helped fill out the ranks. The first man in line got a year’s worth of free coffee. The first hundred in line got a gift bag.

The company plans to open 200 stores in California in the next few years. And based on the this week’s opening, anyway, those plans seem likely to bear out. So if that’s what was keeping you from moving west, just hop on the 70, take it to the 405 north, then jump off on La Cienaga and take a left on Santa Monica Boulevard. It’ll be jahmmed this time of day, but whatever. You don’t see a Dunkin’ in California every day.