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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Update: Details on the New Dunkin’ Donuts/Popeyes Alexandria Location

Pat Gilligan of Gilligan Company addresses the Alexandria Planning and Zoning Commission. He is  building a Dunkin' Donuts and Popeyes location at the corner of Poplar Ridge and Alexandria Pike.


by Robin Gee 

Plans for a combined Dunkin’ Donuts and Popeyes in Alexandria near the corner of Alexandria Pike and Poplar Ridge have moved forward. Franchise owner and developer Pat Gilligan plans to begin construction as soon as building permits are approved.

The Alexandria Planning and Zoning Commission met December 21 and approved the initial site plan for the business. Overall, it will be 5,500 square feet with two connected buildings, 3,200 square feet for Popeyes and 2,276 square feet for Dunkin’ Donuts.

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Gilligan said he owns 38 franchise locations, including the Dunkin’ Donuts located in Cold Spring, which opened in 2020 and has proven to be one of his busiest locations. In fact, the hope is that the new Alexandria store will help alleviate some of the congestion at the Cold Spring location.

The lot will include the required 40 parking spaces. Inside the Popeyes will provide 46 seats, and the Dunkin’ Donuts will have 21, but the focus is on the outside service. 

Driving through

Gilligan said the new location will incorporate the franchise’s latest drive through design.

"Most of our business has traditionally been drive through and, of course, with Corona that’s accelerated. We’re running 80 to 85 percent of our sales through drive through so you’ll notice we have a lot of queuing and stacking, but in this particular one, it’s a three-window building," he said.

The new design can accommodate 10 cars in its queue. 

"This is done specifically for speed of service on the drive through side. We’re able to split those three windows, the first one as a pay function, the middle one we call the present window where you get your product, and the third is a pull forward window," Gilligan said. 

He explained that he hopes the third window will not need to be used often, but it allows a car with a larger order to pull into a stationary position and wait, clearing the way for the next car to pull up and get its order.

This one small change in how food is ordered and picked up can save a lot of time, he said. "Essentially by splitting that pay transaction, we are cutting in half our window time so we may go from a 40 second window time down to 20 seconds and put 180 cars an hour through a busy location."

The Popeyes location will have two menu boards and two order points but will not have a third window at this time.

Commissioners had concerns

Commissioners brought up two concerns, traffic and water retention. Commissioner Randy Nehus noted that the Cold Spring location sometimes backs up onto US 27, and said Alexandria Pike is much narrower and likely unable to handle the flow. There was concern about school hour and rush hour traffic as well.

Gilligan noted his lot could accommodate up to 30 cars, and that the two businesses have different high traffic periods. Dunkin’ is open earlier and its high volume business is done between 6 a.m and 11 a.m., while Popeyes is a lunch and dinner restaurant.

He also said that his businesses tended not to be "destination" locations, pulling people in from all over. Most of his customers, he anticipates, will come from traffic already on the road near the restaurant.

Water runoff was another concern. Patrick Moone, an engineer from the Farnsworth Group, was on hand to answer questions about the site plan. He said he has been in contact with SD1 and the city engineer on this issue. The site will incorporate a stormwater chamber system and an underground retention pond that will allow for a slow down of flow and controlled release. This will allow for less water to be released at a time, but over a longer time period.

Alexandria city engineer Robert Seitzinger gave further explanation of the issues but did say the concern was about water pooling on the site after a mostly grassy area is covered by asphalt. He noted that the underground retention system would likely handle the issue, but in the case that it did not there might have to further work and discussion. 

An approval with contingency for the future

Commissioners discussed the matter further and asked Gilligan if his system did not work as planned, would he be willing to work with the city to alleviate any future issues with runoff.

Gilligan answered in the affirmative, but as a fail-safe the commissioners added a contingency to the motion to accept the site plan that "the developer assists with the storm water issue if it does arise."

With that, the commissioners approved the site plan unanimously.

Gilligan hopes to break ground as soon as possible, early this spring, once building permits are approved.

RELATED: Dunkin' Donuts/Popeyes Location Proposed for Alexandria 

RELATED: Dunkin' Donuts Coming to Cold Spring

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