This new Dunkin' store, the first such store in Harford County to have only drive-through service, is slated to open in Bel Air in the coming weeks. It is in the same building occupied by Paradise Donuts from 2014 until its closing shortly before Christmas 2018.
This new Dunkin' store, the first such store in Harford County to have only drive-through service, is slated to open in Bel Air in the coming weeks. It is in the same building occupied by Paradise Donuts from 2014 until its closing shortly before Christmas 2018. (David Anderson/The Aegis)

A new Dunkin’ Donuts store is slated to open in the former Paradise Donuts shop in the Del Plaza Center in Bel Air in the coming weeks, one of three new Dunkin’ stores planned for Harford County.

The Paradise Donuts store, which opened in the shopping center at Moores Mill Road and North Hickory Avenue in 2014, closed shortly before Christmas, having sold the rights for the location to Dunkin’ last year.

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Workers were out at the store Thursday afternoon, doing tasks such as touching up the exterior paint and working inside. It will be the first Dunkin’ store in Harford County to have drive-through service only — there will be no retail counter inside or places for customers to sit and enjoy their food and beverages.

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It is one of about 20 franchise-owned stores in the Baltimore area and Delaware — Rajesh Patel and Kiren Patel, who are not related, are the majority owners of those establishments.

Darrin Buono, general manager for Patel and Patel, said the size of the building cannot be increased, since the property is in a floodplain, so there is not enough room for sit-down service, hence the drive-through service alone.

Buono said Dunkin’ operators have been trying drive-through stores in other locations, although there are not many.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity to try it and see,” he said.

Dunkin’ is the proper name for the stores — the brand officially dropped “Donuts” from its name in January. They sell not only donuts and coffee but espresso, iced and hot tea, iced coffee, frozen beverages, sandwiches and other baked goods, according to the website of parent company Dunkin’ Brands.

The Bel Air store is one of three ongoing projects for Patel and Patel, who are relocating an existing store in a Route 22 shopping center near Harford Community College to a former Wendy’s restaurant, also along Route 22 near the AMC Classic Churchville 7 movie theater.

“This gives us a standalone building with a drive-through, much more convenient for the customer,” Buono said.

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The franchisees are also opening a new Dunkin’ store in a former Burger King restaurant in the 1800 block of Edgewood Road. That establishment is within a commercial cluster near the Route 24/I-95 interchange that includes the Richlin Catering & Event Center, a Denny’s and Waffle House restaurants and at least two gas stations.

The new stores in Bel Air and Edgewood would give Patel and Patel 10 Dunkin’ operations in Harford County, according to Buono.

“There's been tremendous support from the Harford County community and our local franchisees saw an opportunity to further provide them with Dunkin's signature coffee, food and beverages,” according to a company statement.

Buono noted the housing growth happening in Bel Air, as well as along the Route 24 corridor, and he described the store planned for Edgewood as dovetailing with an existing store further north in Bel Air South. That Dunkin’ in a shopping center with establishments such as Papa John’s Pizza, Bob Evans and the Humagalas restaurant.

That cluster is west of Route 24, and Buono said “we know there’s a lot of growth and opportunity on the other side” of Route 24.

The new Bel Air store should open in the coming weeks, followed by the new Churchville location in about 100 days. The franchisees hope to open the Edgewood store by the end of this year, he said.

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“Really, it’s all about convenience for the customer and we want to make sure the customers first choice is Dunkin’ and these locations will assist in that,” Buono said.

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