Dunkin’ Donuts seeks to expand its success

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The owner of the Bridgton Dunkin’ Donuts is considering building a brand new Dunkin’ Donuts to the right of the existing restaurant that would have better traffic flow for drive-through customers.

Brian Fram, who also owns a Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant in North Conway, N.H., met with Bridgton Director of Economic and Community Development Alan Manoian Nov. 3 to go over a preliminary concept site design for his property at 181 Portland Road. Manoian showed the design on Monday to members of the Comprehensive Plan Committee, who are in the process of formulating possible design standards for the commercial corridor.

The concept design has not been formally submitted to the town for site plan review, Manoian stressed. “He may go forward with this, he may not,” Manoian said. What’s clear, he said, is that Fram’s Bridgton franchise has been so successful since being built around five years ago, it’s outgrown its design.

“It has to do with the functionality of the space,” Manoian said. “He can’t handle the capacity of the business that’s coming at him.”

The plan shows the existing entrance serving both the new Dunkin’ Donuts, to be built on vacant property on the right, and the old building, which would be made available for an as yet unnamed retail tenant.

Drive-through traffic at the restaurant currently enters the property, pulls up to the window and travels around the back, and must cross through the middle of the parking lot to exit back onto the highway, creating delays and safety concerns, Manoian said. With the fast food restaurant positioned to the right of the entrance, drive-through customers would exit straight out onto the highway after going around the building. A traffic island with picnic tables and landscaping would further define the internal circulation of traffic.

The concept plan shows all parking spaces for both buildings in the front, and the new building set back from the road about the same distance as the existing Dunkin’ Donuts.

Manoian said he thought it was important for the committee to understand the development pattern that is happening on the Portland Road, and how it differs from the proposed new Form-Based Code design standards that the committee hopes to bring to voters next June. If Fram were bound by those standards, his plan would have to show all parking on either the sides or the rear of the buildings, and he would have to build the new Dunkin’ Donuts no further than 20 feet back from the highway’s right-of-way. The existing Dunkin’ Donuts building would be a grandfathered use.

Fram’s property lies within the stretch of the corridor the committee is proposing be designated as “Traditional Flex 2,” where the speed limit is 40 miles an hour. The TF 2 section would run from Mt. Henry Road south to about where Beef ‘n Ski Restaurant is located. Going north from Mt. Henry Road, as traffic slows heading toward downtown Bridgton, a Traditional Flex 1 section would be designated up to Maple Street with both on-street parking and a maximum building setback of eight feet. The downtown district would officially begin at Maple Street, turning left onto Main Street, where all new development would be built right up to the sidewalk line.

Manoian said he did not discuss the proposed Form-Based Code standards with Fram.

“I didn’t think it was appropriate, since it’s not completed.” But he did ask about signage and landscaping, and said he was pleased to hear that Fram plans high-quality landscape shrubbery and trees similar to those at his North Conway franchise.

Fram also plans to use an externally-lit sign, “not the glaring plastic one that’s out there now,” said Manoian.

“It’s going to become a much more appealing (development), with signage more in keeping with the speed on that street,” Manoian said, and added that he hoped others who come after would follow Fram’s model of using externally-lit signage.

In the past, Manoian has cited “the tale of two Dunkin’s” — Fram’s franchises in Bridgton and North Conway — as illustrating the difference between a high-quality site development, with maintenance (North Conway) and a low-quality site development, with no maintenance (Bridgton), in underscoring the need for amendments to Bridgton’s site plan review ordinance.

“He’s really doing the right thing,” for both his business and for Bridgton, Manoian said of Fram.

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