LEWISTON — Kevin Pacheco’s first job at age 14 was making muffins at his father’s Dunkin’ Donuts shop on Lisbon Street.
“They had to keep me in the kitchen because they’d get too many complaints because there was a little kid up front,” said Pacheco, 34.
He’s grown up in and around Dunkin’ Donuts. The city saw its first franchise in 1963.
Today, the Twin Cities have 11.
No. 12, Pacheco’s, is about to break ground.
By a rough count, Lewiston-Auburn has more Dunkin’ Donuts shops per capita than Portland, Bangor, South Portland or Biddeford.
Doughnuts for 104 franchises, the southern half of the state, are baked here every night by 80 workers in a massive kitchen in the Lewiston Industrial Park.
Statewide, 141 franchises employ about 2,000 people, according to Maine Department of Labor estimates. Fast-food giant McDonald’s, by comparison, employs about 2,350.
“The great part about Lewiston-Auburn is all the franchisees are second-generation,” said Norm Boulay Jr., 48, of Lewiston. “We’ve grown up in this business and we just love our brand. I can remember I was 8 years old going into work with my father, helping him make doughnuts.”
Nine years ago, when business got too busy at their Dunkin’ Donuts shop at 319 Main St., Boulay and his father, Norm Sr., built another one a mile up the road at 590 Main. They own a third Twin Cities location inside St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.
The family believes Norm Sr., 80 next month, has the second-longest-running franchise in Dunkin’s history. He bought 319 Main with two partners back in 1974. In 1963, that location was one of the first Dunkin’s in Maine.
The chain started in Quincy, Mass., in 1950. First growing in New England, it’s now in 36 states and 31 countries. Stores are franchisee-owned. According to corporate parent, Dunkin’ Brands, 7,384 U.S. locations reported $1.5 billion in sales between January and March — that’s a lot of bacon, eggs and Munchkins.
Boulay, who with his father also owns locations in Gardiner and Farmingdale, said he attributes success to being fast and accurate, being responsive to customer feedback and staying involved in the community with sponsorship and charity support.
“Lewiston-Auburn is a great community to do business in, and we try to support the people in return,” Boulay said.
At 12 sites, there will soon be one Dunkin’ Donuts for every 4,592 people in the Twin Cities. There appears to be one for every 8,276 people in Portland and one for every 5,469 in Bangor, based on U.S. Census figures and Dunkin’s corporate restaurant locator.
Pacheco’s family has five Dunkin’ Donuts in Maine. He owns one up the road from his new location, 3 miles away in Sabattus, plus another in Poland.
“It didn’t just suddenly pop up — it took a long time to build this market and to get the loyalty out of our guests,” he said.
He also credits his crews: “It takes a team of people to put out a good cup of coffee in 30 seconds, 40 seconds.”
Pacheco had been eyeing Sabattus Street for 10 years, waiting for the right location. He’ll break ground next to the new Cumberland Farms in two to three weeks and open in September, hiring 18 to 20 people.
The project has been in the works for nine months. It will mean a new traffic light for the busy strip and a new central office for Pacheco where he’ll be owner and customer.
“My favorite coffee is a hazelnut 4-by-4, four milks and four sugars. That’s what I run on,” he said. “I have that once a day, if I’m lucky.”
National Doughnut Day, June 7
* Started in 1938 by the Salvation Army as a fundraiser and a way of honoring the “doughnut lassies” of World War I who, among many good deeds, fed doughnuts to American soldiers.
According to the Salvation Army, they were fried seven at a time in soldiers’ helmets.
* In August 2011, the Voodoo Doughnut shop in Portland, Ore., set the new Guinness World Record for the largest box of doughnuts: 3,880 treats weighing 666 pounds in one giant pink box.
* A Maine man, Capt. Gregory Hanson, is credited with inventing the doughnut hole in 1847, when he was a boy.
One of his distant relations debated a Cape Cod lawyer with a different origin story in front of a crowd of New Yorkers in 1941 — and the Maine story won the crowd vote.
Dunkin’ Donuts in Maine, per capita
South Portland 1:6,272
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, DunkinDonuts.com