In the News

Worth the Wait: Norristown PA client back in business after fire (follow-up)

April 23, 2013 | By Gary Puleo, Times Herald

NORRISTOWN — Feeling a little downtrodden about not doin’ the down-town Dunkin’ for a while?

Norristown’s been running on Dunkin’ for almost a decade now, and the good news is the west end’s favorite stop for a “cuppa” joe is back-bright-er and better than ever.

Six months after a fire damaged the Dunkin’ Donuts at 151 W. Main St., the brotherly ownership duo of Vipul and Dipen Patel debuted their renovated, upgraded store on April 14 with zero fanfare, and are hoping their ace in the ‘hole’ for a successful comeback will be a festive grand re-opening party within the next two weeks.

“We opened on a Sunday because we wanted to be sure everything was working perfectly before Monday,” Vipul Patel said. “We saw some customers coming back, one by one, but we need to get the word out that we are back open.”

Casting a bit of a shadow on the prolonged renewal of the store that is coming up fast on its 10th anniversary were unfounded rumors that the fire had put the store permanently out of operation.

“That was never true, but people were saying it,” Patel said, frowning.

“People were saying there was something else taking the place of Dunkin’ Donuts, but it was never a possibility.”

Unlike the other local shops in the Patel Dunkin’ dynasty — Markley Street and Johnson Highway; Blue Bell and Hillcrest Plaza in East Norriton, which opened in January — the “downtown” Dunkin’ relies heavily on foot traffic.

“Our (Johnson Highway) store has always been busy, but we really couldn’t figure out if our old customers were going there or somewhere else,” said Patel, who noted that all four of the original employees at the West Main Street store were back on the job. “We know it will take time to bring the business back here.”

With additional stores in Pottstown and Limerick, the Patel brothers are doing their part to help grease the gears of domination for the world’s largest doughnut chain, which is eyeing 15,000 franchises in the U.S. alone.

Besides two new flavors of caffeinated rocket propellant — pre-sweetened Butter Pecan and Mint Chocolate Chip iced coffees, both inspired by the flavors of parent company Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc.’s Baskin-Robbins subsidiary — customers will get a jolt from some of the fresh specs of the latest Dunkin’ model.

The most conspicuous of those may be that fast-food marvel of technology designed to enthrall and unite you with your jelly doughnut in chop-chop haste: the digitized menu board.

A new layout encourages guests to stick around after grabbing their coffee and doughnut or sandwich — Patel is pleased about having the new Angus Steak and Egg breakfast sandwich on board — and get a little work done, or just kick back in an inviting setting, a la Panera Bread and Starbucks.

Outside, earth tones of brown and tan on the exterior, complemented by bright orange awnings, replace the signature pink of yesteryear.

“The previous image was about seven years old, and the wallpaper and front line counter and WiFi reflects the newer image of Dunkin’ Donuts,” said Patel, who credited Bala Cynwyd-based Insurance Adjustment Bureau, Inc., with nailing the proper compensation benefits for the brothers.

It was back on Oct. 23, 2012, that a Meco Constructors crew struck an underground electric cable that sparked the six months of havoc, which was ultimately mended by New Millenium Designs, Inc., of New Castle.

Patel said he and his brother had never experienced such extensive damage to any of their stores before.

“We’re just happy it’s over and that we are open again,” he said. “We are anxious to welcome everyone back.”