Blind World Magazine

Dunkin' Donuts partners with the blind.

The News Journal, Delaware USA.
Sunday, September 03, 2006.

WILMINGTON - Visitors to the Carvel State Office Building may have a sweet deal on their hands next week.

Starting Tuesday, Dunkin' Donuts will begin serving up its brand of drinks, hot java, doughnuts and snacks on the first floor of the Carvel building.

The brand-name shop is the first such operation in a state building and part of an evolving movement by Delaware's Division for the Visually Impaired's Business Enterprise Program to help the blind become more independent by providing business opportunities.

"It's a wonderful program," said Mark Russ, who will be managing the new Dunkin' Donuts' contract. "It allows a blind individual to be independent."

Enterprise programs have trained the blind and visually impaired to manage food and vending services in several state buildings and some private facilities for more than 50 years. At this time, there are nine locations. Some of these establishments include the cafeteria in the basement of Legislative Hall in Dover, the Side Bar Cafe in the New Castle County Courthouse and the Diamond State Cafe in the Carvel state building.

But as the public's food desires change, these programs must change as well if they want to continue drawing in people, said Michael P. Williams Sr., director of the state's Business Enterprise Program. This includes partnering with brand-name operations such as Dunkin' Donuts, something enterprise programs throughout the country have been looking into for the last two years.

"We've talked not only to Dunkin' Donuts but many other vendors to see if they would have an interest in creating a partnership with us," Williams said, "so we can better meet the needs of our customers on a daily basis in addition to introducing branding within our organization."

There's another reason: "Making money," Williams said.

In addition to managing the Dunkin' Donuts' contract, Russ will continue to run the Carvel building's cafeteria, which is in the mezzanine.

Russ said he wasn't sure what sort of competition the doughnut shop will pose to his cafe.

However, there are some things his Diamond State Cafe will offer that the Dunkin' Donuts will not.

"We can give the full breakfast up here," he said. "They can't get that down there. We also offer lunch."

The way the brand-name operation works is that the blind individual will manage the contract to make sure it is being followed. As the contract manager, the individual will get a certain percentage of the profit.

Dunkin' Donuts, which has a 5-year contract with a 60-day back-out notice, will be responsible for the equipment, the products and the employees.

Williams said there has been an interest by other blind individuals to get a brand-name operation to partner with. "We are having some decision with Dunkin' Donuts about the [New Castle County] courthouse, but that's really way down the road," Williams said.

Contact Esteban Parra at 324-2299 or

End of article.

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