Southwest Florida residents will soon have more places to fuel up.
Marco Island resident Jim Grifoni owns seven Dunkin’ Donuts in Collier County and part of Lee County and plans to have between three and four new stores operational by the start of the restaurant season.
Grifoni bought the development rights to the Collier County in 2008.
“It is the best county,” he said. “My feeling is Collier has always been a nice place to live. That is one of the reasons I wanted to be here.”
His master plan is to have 20 stores operational within the next five years.
“I am going to be building them one after the other,” Grifoni said. “Things are happening in a timely manner.”
Grifoni is working on opening locations at 1089 North Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 4800 Golden Gate Parkway, Golden Gate, and in the Courthouse Shadows plaza, East Naples.
Grifoni, who has been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years, is originally from New England. He decided to invest in the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise because of its success and popularity there. He has one cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee every morning.
“Of course I drink it,” he said. “Dunkin’ Donuts is the best coffee.”
While constructing new stores, Grifoni is also making changes to the current Dunkin’ Donuts shop on 8951 Bonita Beach Road. The store is moving down the street to The Bonita Springs Plaza to a stand-alone structure because it presents better opportunity for branding.
Identity — a stand-alone with a big sign out front — is the key component in the move, Grifoni said.
“The more identity we can get the better,” he said. “Everything that I build I try to put in a stand-alone location.”
Customers can expect a more welcoming feel from the new building.
“It will be a nicer place where people are able to go and sit,” Grifoni said. “(That location) is just better for us.”
The new location will have a drive thru, a necessity for Naples resident Melannie Archie.
She stops at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Immokalee Road across from Gulf Coast High School. “They have a drive-thru, which makes it handy to stop in a hurry,” she said.
Archie is not a big coffee fan, but buys doughnuts for her family when a sweet tooth calls.
“I was raised in Binghamton, N.Y., and there was one not too far from my home. Growing up, my mom would get them occasionally for us,” Archie, 47, said. “I love the freshness. They are never stale.”
Grifoni’s stores are contributing more to the community than breakfast food.
His shops currently employ more than 150 people. The new stores will create jobs for more than 100 people by January. Each store employs 20 to 25 people.
“Business has been great,” he said. The hardest part of getting the shops fully operational is meeting county codes, Grifoni said.
“It is always tough, but things take time,” he said. “It has all worked out. Everyone from the county has been really good to me.”
Dunkin’ Donuts was unable to comment on specific plans to expand the franchise throughout Florida, but their website lists the Sunshine State as a focus area. There are 581 restaurants in Florida.