U.S. News

Starbucks Closes and Dunkin' Steps In


It would seem the folks at Dunkin' Donuts know a window of opportunity when they see it.

For nine hours Tuesday, the world's largest baked goods and coffee chain will offer all espresso drinks for the special price of 99 cents from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. local time. 

The special offer falls on the same day — and roughly during the same hours — that rival Starbucks is shutting its doors for three hours Tuesday night, the latest drastic step in a companywide bid to improve its sagging fortunes.

The shutdown is one of several big moves spearheaded by Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Schultz, who recently took back the reins of the company amid concerns that it was losing its edge and facing increased competition from the likes of McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.

Schultz has said the shutdown, which begins at 5:30 p.m. local time, is a way to energize its 135,000 employees and provide some barista re-education in the "art of espresso" at its 7,100 U.S. locations.

Slam Dunkin'

In the meantime, Dunkin Donuts' vows to fill the void for caffeine-withdrawn Starbuck sippers.

Natalie Wayne of Darien, Conn. said she anticipates taking advantage of Dunkin' Donuts promotion Tuesday.

"Cheap drinks are good," she said. "I figure I should give Dunkin' Donuts a chance even though I am foremost a Starbucks patron."

However Wayne said she does not anticipate the closing will not hurt Starbucks in a long-term way.

"People who want to go to Starbucks during that time of day are regular patrons," she said. "They will not be likely to be deterred by one afternoon?s closing, maybe annoyed, but probably not more than that."

Jeff Dvornek, who works in Manhattan, said he has not shopped at either coffee shop in months and does not anticipate starting Tuesday.

"It certainly won?t affect my daily routine," he said. "And I don?t think it?s going to do much for either business. I assume people will carry on as normal on Wednesday."

The promotion will be available from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Dunkin' Donuts nationwide.

The Associated Press and WNBC TV contributed to this article.