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Little General to build three Dunkin' Donuts

Little General Stores Inc. plans to build Dunkin' Donuts stores in Beckley, Hurricane and Princeton over the next year, with more stores expected in coming years.

In April, Dunkin' Donuts and Little General Store Inc. signed an agreement to open three new locations in West Virginia.

Dunkin' Donuts is working to double its number of U.S. restaurant locations over the next 20 years.

While Little General has signed on for three locations so far, company president Greg Darby hopes to build many more over the coming years.

"We're going to look at Kanawha, Braxton, Nicholas and Fayette counties to develop and build stores," Darby said.

Darby said construction is already underway on the Beckley site, which is being remodeled from a former Steak Escape restaurant located next to an existing Little General convenience store. Since that Dunkin' Donuts location is simply a remodel, it will open first. Darby said the Beckley store to be open by the end of October. The Hurricane and Mercer stores have to be built from scratch, so they will take longer.

"I'm thinking it'll be the fall of 2014 before they're open," Darby said. "In the meantime, we'll be looking at sites in Kanawha and Cabell counties to develop."

Darby thinks the Kanawha County market can handle two Dunkin' Donuts stores, but said he won't know exactly how many stores he will decide to build in the county until he starts evaluating potential properties.

He said he has already located potential sites in other counties, but said he wants to hit the higher trafficked areas first.

"I already have a site picked out in Fayette County and site picked out on Braxton, both right along the interstate," he said. "The high priority will be building in Cabell, Putnam and Kanawha counties."

Little General operates 97 convenience stores and 78 restaurants across the state. Franchise restaurants include Arby's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway and Godfathers Pizza.

While many of those restaurants are attached to Little General convenience stores, Darby said that might not be the case with Dunkin' Donuts. He said he might build some freestanding stores, if he can find adequate property to develop.

Regardless of the building type, he said the new Dunkin' Donuts locations will be fullservice locations. "All the ones we do - whether they're freestanding or added onto the c-store - they'll have the full menu of donuts, coffee, beverages and everything," Darby said.

"We don't want to build express units, we want to build the full-menu Dunkin' Donuts," he said.

There are currently just four Dunkin' Donuts stores in the state, two in Fairmont, one in Parkersburg and one in Morgantown. Darby said his agreement with Dunkin' Donuts allows him to develop stores all across areas of central and southern West Virginia not currently served by a Dunkin' Donuts franchisee.

Darby said Dunkin' Donuts' brand recognition will make it easier to expand in the southern part of the state.

"It's a growing franchise that's really popular," he said. "They've done well in northern West Virginia and I think they'll do well here too."

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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