Tulane runs on Dunkin’ after delayed opening

Hannah Levitan, Staff Reporter

After over seven months of renovation, Tulane University opened Dunkin’ Donuts in the Lavin-Bernick Center on Jan. 18, where they offered free coffee and pastries all day. 

Dunkin' Donuts saw long lines and avid customers ready to have iced coffees and Munchkins.
Dunkin’ Donuts at Tulane’s Lavin-Bernick Center sees a brisk trade, despite initial concerns from some students. (Hannah Levitan)

Dining Services announced the change in the summer of 2021 — warranting a decidedly mixed reaction from the student body. Social media comments questioned the nutritional quality and the need for a Dunkin’ franchise, and the level of student input in the decision-making process. 

University administrators say that student feedback was a factor in the decision to replace a Panera Bread franchise with the New England coffee and donut standby.

In an emailed comment, Dining Services stated that administrators prepared a “university-wide survey that took into consideration students’ tastes and preferences along with concepts that are popular in the regions where Tulane students reside.”

According to Dining Services, “approximately 600 students responded to the survey.” 

Jamie Dunkle, assistant director of Dining Services marketing and communications, said that survey data indicated that “the demographics of the survey participants were closely representative of the student body during that time.” 

Forty-point-five percent of Tulane undergraduates hail from the Northeast or South Atlantic, as of fall 2021

Founded in 1950, Dunkin’ Donuts’ franchises are primarily located in the mid-Atlantic region

The “decision to remove Panera,” Dunkle said, was a collaborative effort with the Division of Student Affairs. 

Wesley Turnage, Sodexo’s general manager for dining, said work on the project began in the summer of 2021.

According to Dunkle, Dining Services identified a need for a breakfast, lunch and coffee option in the LBC.

Prior to its opening, the closest Dunkin’ franchise was in Metairie, over five miles away.

Tulane’s Dunkin’ outpost employs a “mix of new employees and existing Dining Services employees,” Dunkle said, who were “trained in accordance with Dunkin’ training standards.”

Annie Trinh, a junior in the School of Science and Engineering, said she was glad Tulane introduced a coffee shop beyond PJ’s Coffee on campus, but was disappointed by its quality. 

“It’s nice to have a Dunkin’ here rather than driving 20 minutes to the location in Metairie,” Trinh said. “I’m from Quincy, MA which is where the first Dunkin was founded. If you’re from New England, you know there’s a Dunkin on every corner. […] I will say the coffee at home is more consistent and I haven’t been thrilled by what I’ve gotten from the LBC Dunkin’.”

In 2017, former Saints quarterback Drew Brees committed to opening as many as 69 new Dunkin’ locations across Louisiana. As of now, there are only 13 other locations across the state.

Tulane’s Dunkin’ location plans to host a grand opening on Feb. 14.

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