By Daniel Larios
September 5, 2014 – Santa Monica donut shop owners aren’t worried the much-touted arrival of Dunkin’ Donuts will put a hole in their business.
Owners and employees of the City’s five doughnut shops played down the arrival of the donut giant, which drew long lines and news crews to its grand opening Tuesday morning.
They’re banking that the popularity of their cronuts, O-nuts, Wow- nuts and plain old homemade donuts will keep the customers coming.
“I’m not worried about them,” Kelly, co-owner of Santa Monica Donuts, told the Lookout Wednesday. “People like our doughnuts. I don’t think they will leave us.”
The small mom and pop store in a strip mall at 2822 Santa Monica Boulevard is known for its homemade glazed doughnuts and baked – not fried — cronuts, a doughnut/croissant hybrid invented at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Manhattan.
“Dunkin’ is good for breakfast,” said Sheila Brown, a Santa Monica Donuts customer. “But when I want a nice snack, I come here.”
The only major impact the donut juggernaut has had on the small shop is the number of people calling to ask where the new store is located, said Kelly, who declined to give her full name.
“They cause us problems in that I get calls asking where (is) the Dunkin Donuts,” Kelly said. “They don’t have a phone number up, and I had to disconnect the phone because of all the people who call.”
Further down the road, DK’s Donuts, at 1614 Santa Monica Boulevard, is still drawing a crowd, offering a menu of gourmet doughnuts, as well as old fashioned ones.
Included in the menu is the store’s version of the cronut known as O-Nuts, since the name “cronut” is trademarked by Dominique Ansel.
“There are so many good things here,” said Jordan Henning, a DK’s Donuts customer. “The great thing about this place is the variety and the creative ways they make their goods.”
According to an employee, DK’s Donuts is known for their O-nuts and their WOW-nuts, half waffle half donut hybrids.
“I think because of our menu, we aren’t worried about Dunkin’ coming to Santa Monica,” a DK Donuts employee told the Lookout. “We’ve been here for more than 30 years, we’re not going anywhere.”
Customers waiting in line agreed. “It’s like they put magic in every doughnut,” said Roy Garcia, a customer who ordered a red velvet O-Nut. “I can’t get enough of them.”
Three of the five existing doughnut shops are mom and pop stores -- Santa Monica Donuts, DK Donuts and Bakery and Donut King. The other two are chain stores --Yum Yums and Krispy Kreme.
While local shops have their regulars who will stick with them, Dunkin’ has the east coast transplant crowd who remember their hometown treats.
“I grew up on Dunkin’,” said Kimberly Donovan, a Boston-native who moved to LA four years ago. “Being here reminds me of home, and it’s still the same after all these years.”
This is not the company's first expansion into California.
The Canton, Massachusetts-based chain had about a dozen shops in the state before pulling out in the late 1990s and there was a failed comeback attempt in Sacramento in 2002, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The company has three nontraditional locations open in California: at Camp Pendleton, the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay Downtown and the Barstow Station railroad-theme stop next to Interstate 15.
Upcoming Dunkin' Donuts in the Los Angeles County area include Long Beach, Downey and Whittier, which are anticipated by the end of this year.