Dunkin’ Donuts returning to Bethel

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BETHEL – A proposed $500,000 expansion project at C.N. Brown’s Big Apple convenience store and gas station on Route 2 will include a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through that’s expected to create jobs for 12 to 15 people.

Bob Seavey believes the new business will thrive, because of its proximity to growing Bethel Village and Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry.

“I think the community will be pretty happy to see us come back,” Seavey said by phone in Auburn at the Center Street Dunkin’ Donuts.

He is the general manager of FPM Donuts Inc., the company that owns five Dunkin’ Donuts franchises in Auburn, two in Oxford and one in Turner. The business, led by Frank Minigell of Minot, is in a three-year expansion plan.

Previously, a different franchise owned and operated a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through at the Irving convenience store and gas station, just a mile east of the Big Apple on Route 2 in Bethel. But, it closed in June 2005. That’s when FPM Donuts broached C.N. Brown about partnering with their Big Apple store, Seavey said.

“Business is good. It’s a good time to be developing,” he added.

According to a site-plan document from FPM Donuts and C.N. Brown, the project involves replacing the existing 1,400-square-foot convenience store and gas station and heating oil office with a 1,674-square-foot store and station, and Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through window. The heating oil office will be moved to another location.

The expansion and addition of Dunkin’ Donuts means minor improvements will have to be done to Route 2 by the Maine Department of Transportation. Lanes into the Big Apple will be changed to a one-way entrance opposite Riverside Lane and a one-way exit closer to the Androscoggin River side.

Because the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through is expected to generate considerable traffic, Seavey said FPM Donuts, not C.N. Brown, applied in June to MDOT for a required traffic movement permit.

During the winter ski and snowboard season, the Dunkin’ Donuts business expects 168 customers per hour to use its drive-through during a peak Saturday morning hour, according to the project documentation.

On Wednesday, signs on the Big Apple’s front door and fuel pumps stated it was closed for renovations, which surprised Seavey. He didn’t think it would happen that quick. They still have to get site-plan approval from Bethel planners.

FPM gained MDOT approval in October for the traffic permit, then, through agent SYT Design Consultants of Cumberland, which represents FPM and C.N. Brown, presented the project on Dec. 12 to Bethel planners.

Planners then scheduled a site walk – conducted Wednesday – and set a public hearing for 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, in the Bethel town office. Notices were sent to six abutters. Following the hearing, planners will continue to review the project.

Seavey said that barring complications, they could get the OK that night to proceed with construction.

He said a manager at one of FPM’s two Oxford Dunkin’ Donuts businesses will transfer to the Bethel business. Doughnuts will be trucked in from the Auburn store. There won’t be any in-store seating like there is in Auburn.

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