Jefferson is home to just over 2,000 people, a feed store, a bank, an ice cream shop and now a popular chain known for its doughnuts and coffee.
The Dunkin’, at the site of the former PNC Bank on Jefferson Pike, is set to open Thursday. The shop will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and will have a drive-thru.
Franchise co-owner Brent Fauntleroy said he is most excited “just to be able to give a quick, good coffee to the local patrons” at the new location. This is his 10th Dunkin’ franchise in Maryland. His franchise company, Upcounty Donuts, which he owns with Mike Kaminski, also has locations in Texas.
Upcounty Donuts has looked at smaller communities such as Jefferson and Thurmont, Fauntleroy said, and each has done well thus far.
The newest location in Jefferson has already hired 20 employees and is looking to hire more.
“It’s not just about making money, it’s about helping the community out, helping the economy and stuff like that,” Fauntleroy said. “Making jobs, helping with the elementary schools, with the community.”
The process to have the Dunkin’ approved by the Frederick County Planning Commission was long, Fauntleroy said. In July, the commission put plans for the Dunkin’ on hold while they took more time to determine how the introduction of the coffee and doughnut spot would affect local traffic.
In August, the plans were denied on the basis that the Dunkin’ would draw too much traffic off U.S. 340 into Jefferson, thereby affecting residents.
In September, however, that decision was reversed with the terms that left turns would not be allowed out of the parking lot and onto Md. 180 at certain times of the morning.
“If they had their way, certain people on there wouldn’t have let this happen. They were trying not to let it happen,” Fauntleroy said Tuesday.
Still, not everybody is convinced. Jefferson resident David Evans thinks that the traffic on Lander Road and Md. 180 is bad enough already.
“The biggest concern is you’ve already got people backed up at that intersection, especially in the morning, and now you’re going to add a whole lot of cars trying to get into a [Dunkin’] parking lot which is right on the corner. ... It can’t possibly help any. It’s only going to make things worse,” he said.
He is also wary of the traffic coming off U.S. 340.
“It’s like a big flashing red light, come over here and help congest Jefferson,” Evans said.
Fauntleroy doesn’t believe, however, that the new Dunkin’ will drive a significant amount of traffic into the area that wouldn’t already be there.
“No one’s coming here just because there’s a Dunkin’ here, it’s convenience,” he said.
If anybody does come, he said it would be a few people coming off U.S. 340 in the morning. Fauntleroy noted that there’s not much between the West Virginia side of the highway and the beginning of Interstate 270.
“It gives them a chance to stop off for a cup of coffee before they hit the traffic on 70 or 270. But it won’t be a ton of people,” he said. “It’s just those few people who actually want to get off the highway to grab a cup of coffee.”
Another local concern is the fact that Dunkin’ is a large franchise, and will be coming into Jefferson, a community of small, independent businesses.
“People around here are not interested in seeing a chain store coming into Jefferson,” Evans said, pointing out that there is already the Little Red Barn Ice Cream Cafe across the street from Dunkin’.
Fauntleroy, however, took that into consideration, he said. He opted to have this Jefferson franchise be just a Dunkin’, as opposed to a Baskin Robbins combo, “because ... we’re not about trying to hurt local businesses.”
In fact, he believes the Dunkin’ opening in Jefferson could even help local businesses in town.
“It kind of puts Jefferson on the map in a sense of people will come and see the Little Red Barn and the Watson’s ... across the street,” he said. “There’s little things that people don’t know about Jefferson.”
Fauntleroy said he wants to embrace the Jefferson community. The town Christmas tree, which is lit up every holiday season, sits on the Dunkin’ property. He said that many people expressed concern to him that Dunkin’ was going to cut the tree down and dispose of it. But in fact, it was the opposite.
“His first thought was he can’t wait to do hot chocolate and doughnuts when they light the tree,” said Brent’s wife, Stacey Fauntleroy.