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Chapel Hill residents run on Dunkin' for a year following grand opening


Dunkin' customers stood in line for hours on Friday, June 28, for the grand opening of the Chapel Hill's Stancell Drive location - and for the chance to win free coffee.

Chapel Hill’s newest Dunkin’ held a grand opening celebration on Friday, June 28, promising free coffee for a year to the first 50 customers in line. 

The first person got in line at the new 110 Stancell Drive location around 3:30 a.m., and by the 5 a.m. opening time, there were around 70 people in line. 

The first 50 customers customers received a booklet with coupons for four free, medium hot or iced coffees per month from June 2019 to July 2020. The coupons are only valid at the new store. 

Abimael Santos, a shift leader at Dunkin’, said he thought the grand opening was a success. Santos said he was glad to see a line of people already waiting when he arrived at the store around 4 a.m.

“Once we opened, it just went so fast,” Santos said. “We went through the free coffee coupon books in like 15 minutes.”

Talia and Maya Wahl, sisters and self-proclaimed Dunkin’ enthusiasts, said they were excited when this location opened around two weeks ago because it’s much closer to their home. Throw in free coffee for a year, and they were sold: they woke up at 3 a.m. to head to the grand opening.

Advertisements for the event on Facebook and other sites said the store would open at 5 a.m., so when Dunkin’ employees told the customers in line that they wouldn’t be opening until 6 a.m., Talia said she was frustrated. She had to be at work at 6:30 a.m.

“Everything said 5, so I thought we’d be out of here by 6 and I’d be fine to get to work by 6:30,” she said. 

Santos said the 5 a.m. time on the advertisements was a mistake probably made by a district manager who thought the store opened at 5 a.m. regularly. The Stancell Drive location opens at 6 a.m., though, and opening early wasn’t part of the plan for the grand opening. 

In an attempt to rectify the situation as best they could, the Dunkin’ employees worked quickly to get the store ready to open by 5:30 a.m. 

“I do really appreciate that effort,” Talia said. “They could have just locked the door and said ‘too bad.’”

UNC employee Rachel Prasek said she was surprised there seemed to be so little promotion about the grand opening. Prasek said when she saw an ad about it on Facebook that only about 30 people had liked, she thought she’d have a pretty good chance to be one of the first 50 in line. 

She had to be at work at 8 a.m. on Friday and got to Dunkin’ around 3:50 a.m. She was the seventh person in line. 

“I drove by last night around 10 to see if anyone was camped out,” Prasek said. “If they were, I don’t think it would have been worth it, but no one was here yet.”

While some of the other customers in line were disappointed to learn that the “free coffee for a year” was limited to four coffees a month and only at that location, Prasek had already done her research. She said she looked up information about past Dunkin’ openings and read that the offer would be limited and redeemable at one location. 

“I figured it wouldn’t be completely unlimited or even one a day, honestly,” Prasek said. “But free is free, and I’m glad I came out.”


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