The day I’ve been waiting since April 26 has finally come.
On April 26, I moved from Connecticut to Montgomery – a place devoid of perhaps the most amazing fast food chain on earth: Dunkin Donuts.
On April 26, my heart broke. I was devastated. Where would I get my iced coffee on the way to work? Where would I get my beloved ham and cheese Wake-Up Wrap for only 100 calories? Would I only ever sink my teeth into a warm, flaky croissant when I visited my family? Would I ever have another deliciously-glazed pumpkin donut in October?
I furiously started searching for the closest Dunkin Donuts. The restaurant locator at DunkinDonuts.com brought me some of the most depressing results ever: There is no Dunkin Donuts within 50 miles of Montgomery. The closest was 77 miles away in Pelham, Al., followed by 90 miles in Birmingham, 95 miles in Bessemer, 102 miles in Cottondale and 109 miles in Dothan.
I started to think it could be months before I place my lips over one of those orange and pink straws. A fellow reporter offered to take a road trip with me to the Dothan Dunkin Donuts. I seriously considered going to Birmingham for DD coffee one Sunday. But then one day, another reporter told me there were plans to build a Dunkin – right here in Montgomery! I quickly became excited, and started searching the archives. I found the brief that had been written more than a year ago, but there was no other solid evidence that this was really happening. I started asking around – city officials, friends who have lived here a while – but had no luck.
Ok, so I probably sound obsessed. But I didn’t know life would be so hard without my iced coffee with milk and one sugar. And it wouldn’t be so bad if there were coffee shops all over town or if I had easy access to an iced coffee. But if I’m at work (our office is downtown) and I want coffee, the closest Starbucks (or anything for that matter) is on Zelda Road, approximately 10 minutes (or 4.4 miles) away.
There are four Starbucks in a city of more than 200,000 people. Let’s put that into context.
In the Northeast, Dunkin Donuts are everywhere. You can’t drive more than a few miles without running into one, or even two. Some are across the street from each other. They’re in gas stations, Wal-Marts, Stop & Shops and in their own buildings. Let me throw this stat out. In the town I lived in, Norwich, which has a population of about 40,000 (roughly one-fifth the size of Montgomery), there are seven Dunkin Donuts. Not to mention another 16 within a 10-mile radius of Norwich.
For months, I’ve been trying to cope. I went to Starbucks. The coffee is good, but it’s expensive. It’s nearly $3.50 for a large iced coffee, which is roughly the size of a Dunkin medium. And Krispy Kreme – there’s only one here in Montgomery, and it’s completely out of my way. I haven’t even tried the coffee there. So, I decided to improvise. I bought ground Dunkin coffee, made it in my own coffee pot, and refrigerated it overnight. The result? It gave me the boost I needed, but it wasn’t the same. Nothing will ever be as good as my beloved Dunkin iced coffee. I was starting to lose hope.
But then one beautiful Saturday afternoon, everything changed. My friend and I were on our way to Salsaritas on Vaughn Road for some pre-pool lunch. On a plot of land next to the plaza was the beginning of some construction. I asked my friend if she knew what it was. She looked at me and nonchalantly said, “Dunkin Donuts.” Was she serious? How did she know? Why didn’t I know? How long had she kept this information from me?
All these questions came pouring out of my mouth. But her answers didn’t matter. I was absolutely thrilled. And this week, it was confirmed. Harrison Kwan, a Connecticut native like myself, said the Dunkin Donnts – located at 8025 Vaughn Road – will likely be open by October. And he said he’s committed to at least three Dunkin Donuts locations in Montgomery.
So the day has finally come.
October, for many reasons, will be a wonderful month. I’ll get to see my favorite band – a Texas country group called the Casey Donahew Band – play for the first time when they come to Tuscaloosa. I’ll turn 25, and my car insurance will go down. And perhaps most importantly, I’ll get to introduce my Southern friends to the wonder that is Dunkin Donuts. Look out, Starbucks. Dunkin is pushing its way onto the all-day breakfast scene in Montgomery.