San Francisco dunkin donuts Photo: m01229/Flickr

East Coast donut giant Dunkin’ Donuts announced their expansion to San Francisco and the Bay Area back in July. While Dunkin’ Donut franchisees are targeting sites in multiple Bay Area cities, San Francisco is currently not one of them.

According to Fish Consulting, Dunkin’ Donuts’ PR firm, the company does not currently have a franchisee for the City of San Francisco. There is no further comment regarding a named franchisee or timeline.

A Dunkin’ Donuts in San Francisco could be a good option for residents and visitors. However, once Dunkin’ Donuts finds its way to the city, the red tape will likely roll out before the red carpet.

The city’s general plan values unique character and neighborhood individuality. In the planning code, there is a Formula Retail Use directed at chains.

Chains are prohibited in neighborhood commercial districts of Hayes-Gough, North Beach, and Chinatown’s visitor retail area. Additionally, in certain zoned districts where chains are permitted, they may be subject to additional conditions and regulations that non-chain establishments are not.

For a company like Dunkin’ Donuts, these regulations can make expanding to San Francisco a challenge, although not impossible. Several businesses have proven it is feasible — Chipotle, Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, and a single In-N-Out Burger — to set up shop in the city.

Meanwhile, immediately outside of the San Francisco county and city borders, Vishal Shah and his partner Jaime Dejuras, heads of California Donut Kings, have exclusive rights of Dunkin’ Donut locations in Alameda and San Mateo counties.

As a long-time Chicago franchisee, Shah is looking forward to expanding to the Bay Area, “We are excited between the transplants and the climate… it’s like a gem in the west coast.” He compares the expansion to the 1800 gold rush, “[Dunkin’ Donuts] coffee is liquid gold, so it’s fitting.”

Shah says that during phase one, which will take eight years, they will add 26 stores, 13 locations per county in cities such as Oakland, Newark, Hayward, Burlingame, South San Francisco, and Daly City. They are scoping out the marketplace and in the process of starting negotiations in a few locations.

Shah couldn’t reveal which location, as they are in early negotiations but shares “I’m optimistic that the first one will open in first quarter of 2016.”

Nick Bhatt of Shiva Development is covering the northern Bay Area region where donuts and coffee will soon coexist in wine country. He is currently scouting locations in Napa Valley, Sonoma, San Rafael, Vallejo, Valencia and up to Santa Rosa. Bhatt expects his first store to open in mid to late 2017.

Bhatt reports that there are approximately 11,500 stores nationwide and 1,000 stores will be opened in California.

With over 1,000 stores slated for California, perhaps a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee will soon brave their “liquid gold” in San Francisco.

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