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Winning Rays fans keep Dunkin' Donuts cooking

It is impossible, unthinkable, career suicide, for the president of Dunkin' Donuts to root for any team but the hometown Boston Red Sox to win the World Series. That said, Will Kussell can't help but feel good about the Tampa Bay Rays.

"I'm a baseball fan," Kussell said, "and if the Red Sox can't be in it, I'm rooting for the American League."

It doesn't hurt that Dunkin' Donuts is in the midst of a fruitful partnership with the Rays — whenever the team wins, fans get a free doughnut the next day. This season, Dunkin' Donuts gave away 253,170 doughnuts — more than double the number given away in 2007.

This weekend, Dunkin' Donuts will open two new stores locally, including the company's first "green" store at 7595 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg. Kussell, who is Dunkin Brands' president and chief brand officer, will be on hand for the grand opening of that store Friday. He chatted with the Times about business, baseball and ecofriendly doughnuts.

Are the Rays close to bankrupting the company?

Well, we're always thrilled to see our promotions work out.

What exactly is a "green" Dunkin' Donuts?

Our new restaurant is going to have a big focus on energy efficiency. For example, our insulated concrete foam walls are going to be able to reduce air conditioning usage by approximately 40 percent. We're going with energy-efficient lighting, including motion sensors for restrooms and offices. We're going to have water-efficient plumbing fixtures. And we're going to be using green cleaning agents, which meet the LEED and California Air Resources Board standards. We're also going with paper cups rather than our traditional Styrofoam cups for all of our hot beverages, and our napkins are going to be made from recycled materials.

Every time I see a story about saving money in this economy, one of the tips is always, "Cut out the morning latte." Why wouldn't a $1.79 morning coffee be one of the first things to go from someone's daily budget if they're trying to save money?

We view it is a relatively small out-of-pocket expense, and for many people, it is their breakfast. People are time-starved. We find that people actually have less time than ever before, particularly at breakfast, to prepare a meal, and it's a convenience factor. Our average ticket is in the low $3 range for a high-quality cup of coffee and a bakery or sandwich item. We think it's a very value-oriented breakfast opportunity for people that would be hard to replicate at home.

If you go

Two Dunkin' Donuts open this weekend. The company's first "green" store will have a grand opening at 10 a.m. Friday at 7595 Fourth St. N in

St. Petersburg. On Saturday, fans can line up at 7030 Ulmerton Road in Largo; the first customers at 5 a.m. will receive free coffee for a year (one medium cup per week) and giveaways including TVs, digital cameras and 10 $100 gift cards.

Winning Rays fans keep Dunkin' Donuts cooking 10/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 16, 2008 11:45am]
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