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Our New Dunkin' Donuts Overlords Agreed To Save Retro Pink Donut Sign
It's a sweet, sweet win for Long Beach residents who were trying to save the iconic pale pink donut sign atop of the Original Grind that will soon be taken over by a Dunkin' Donuts franchise.
At last night's Long Beach Planning Committee hearing, representatives from Dunkin' Donuts' franchisee Frontier Restaurant Group decided at the last moment to save the 10-15 foot donut sign that was built back in the 1950s.
"We don’t want to be viewed as the guys who killed the doughnut," Dan Almquist, managing partner with Frontier Restaurant Group told the O.C. Register.
The donut was a fixture of the Original Grind coffee shop shop at 7th Ave. and Pacific Coast Highway, and originally was a Mrs. Chapman Angel Foods Donuts chain. Dunkin' Donuts, which plans to open in September, had plans to tear down the former shop and two other buildings to make way for a drive-through restaurant.
Massachusetts-based Dunkin' Donuts (which in the past had shops all over the U.S. except in the Golden State) plan to open 45 restaurants in SoCal come 2015 as part of their franchise expansion. Back in the day, they had a small presence back in California, but closed all their stores in the 1990s, according to the L.A. Times. Although it's not certain why Dunkin' Donuts hasn't tried to open shop in California again until recently, a NY Times article from 1995 talks about how Cambodian refugees had taken over the donut business in California and saturated the market. So, it's interesting Dunkin' Donuts is making the move now to expand here—and more ironic that they're preserving an iconic L.A. donut sign in the process.
Dunkin' Donuts intended to give the doughnut to the city of Long Beach and the city promised to keep it safe in a warehouse, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, local residents and preservationists didn't want it to be hidden and forgotten about. A "Save the Giant Donut" Facebook sprung up on Feb. 4, and within a few days the page garnered over 1,700 likes.
Megan Rank, the social media manager for Retro Row, group of business owners who preserve the vintage shops on 4th Street, started the Facebook page. "You never know what is going to stir up the passions of people in Long Beach," Rank told LAist. "Whether it's the breakwater or a giant fiberglass doughnut, this is a community that is fiercely opinionated."
However, there are concerns raised about the integrity of the big donut structure, since it is made of fiberglass that hasn't been kept up over the years. "It’s a little sensitive from a safety standpoint," Almquist told the O.C. Register. "There’s been a lot of feedback to keep the heritage and incorporate a coffee cup in the doughnut. I don’t know what we’re dealing with. The integrity of the doughnut is pretty suspect."
Though, Almquist is working out a way to preserve the donut and incorporate it in the new Dunkin' Donuts restaurant.
Lynne Nikoletich Amyx's father, who has since died, built the historic donut sign. "My dad would have gotten a kick out of people wanting to save them, since they use them as landmarks to get around town," she told the O.C. Register.