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Sunset Drive Dunkin' Donuts: Worries for Some, Excitement for Others

Owner of Le Caffe' Bistro questions if the Town of Waukesha should approve a drive through for Dunkin' Donuts when the independent coffee shop was denied a similar request.

While many people are excited about the possibility of Dunkin’ Donuts coming to Sunset Drive, others have questions they’d like answered before the Town of Waukesha Plan Commission approves the project.

Plans for Dunkin’ Donuts call for up to four retail spaces at the property along Sunset Drive.

Impacts to St. Vincent’s De Paul and Le Caffe’ Bistro are among concerns raised by Waukesha Patch readers. Le Caffe’ Bistro is an independently owned coffee shop in the Town of Waukesha that will be adjacent to Dunkin’ Donuts.

The request from Dunkin’ Donuts includes plans for a drive through. And that’s throwing a red flag for the owners of Le Caffe’ Bistro.

Jim Radke, an owner of the coffee shop, said Le Caffe’ Bistro previously sought a drive through window for its customers. However, they were turned down by the Town of Waukesha because of safety concerns, he said.

Radke sent the following email to Waukesha Patch about the Dunkin’ Donuts proposal.

I can’t stop development of the lot next door or elsewhere, but yes, I am less than enthused if they are granted a drive through when we were told we could not put one in.

I really don’t want to come across the wrong way, as I think DD might just bring us more exposure and business our way, and we certainly want to be good neighbors.

I am also not excited if it is follows suit and becomes a 24-hour operation as many of the others are, as I don’t know if that is the best benefit to the community, and what issues that may bring to an otherwise safe and quiet area. Is that truly what the local community wants? Are they even aware of their business plans? 

Le Caffe’ Bistro is more unique and feel our brand of coffee is superior and is targeted to a slightly different crowd. It is roasted locally, and is a much needed welcome to the automated chain coffee and sterile environment it is served in. We employ true baristas that custom-make everything, not just push a button. Did you know not that long ago DD had a facility in the Sunset Bowl area just East on Sunset until they decided to vacate that facility? They also had a large facility on Moorland & Springdale that they too vacated.  Do consumers remember the Krispy Kreme phenomena of several years ago, and their rapid rise and then even more rapid fall when their business plan failed? What will happen to this building if history repeats itself? Is the first plea then back to the board to ask for a 24-hour operation to survive? Does it then join the vacancies that other corporate moguls such as Kmart, Blockbuster, WalMart and even Fox Run have become, that the town taxpayers may then be held liable to repurpose?

They are proposing building 32 stores in SE Wisconsin, so one can only assume Sunset with all the recent development is a prime target. 

I am torn if having it next door is better than having them several blocks away? Coffee shops are not big money makers. Our vision was to provide a superior cup of coffee along with true home baked items to the area, while promoting the local economy and providing a safe, comfortable environment to relax and escape the commercialism. My wife and I both hold other jobs to be able to survive. But, at the end of the day, both DD and Le Caffe’ Bistro are competing for that same customer buying a cup of coffee, to help pay our bills. We are fortunate to have many local supporters and groups that will continue to frequent our facility, regardless of what might move in next door.  

My request to the planning commission will be to remind them of the same safety concerns that we were told. That intersection will become a headache, and our first concern is the safety for our customers, commuters, neighboring businesses, the elderly residents behind us at the independent living facility and the many pedestrians on the sidewalk. If they are approved for a drive through, I can only assume that I will then be able to offer a drive through as well and the restrictions will now be lifted? 

The Town of Waukesha has always been fair to us and a great place to live and work. My family and I are long time homeowners in the Town of Waukesha and can only trust the board will make their decision in the best interest of the community.

St. Vincent’s De Paul has not responded to request for comment about what will happen to the thrift store on Sunset Drive.

Meanwhile, while some Waukesha Patch readers were critical of the doughnut part of Dunkin’ Donuts, others were excited about the possibility for the coffee shop to return to the south side of Waukesha. A post about the store gained about 60 Facebook likes in the first 24 hours.

  • “Ohhhh man!!! Thats fantastic!” – Danny K. wrote one the Facebook page.
  • “That would be great! I lived in NY until recently & got hooked on DD. I was sad that there weren't any in Waukesha but now they are starting to pop up.” – Sarah F. said.
  • “Plenty of good development on Sunset. One more business there is good for Waukesha.” – Eric P. said.
Mr. T February 18, 2013 at 05:57 PM
since when is dunkin doughnuts a know place of crime? that argument is invalid.. the mcdonalds on sunset has a 24 hour drive-thru and its never been a location known for crime. I dont understand why so many people are concerned about a DD... dont we have more important things to worry about?
Mr. T February 18, 2013 at 05:58 PM
not to mention a doughnut shop will probably attract more cops than criminals..
Sinead Raleigh February 18, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Way to go Mr. Radke your place of business Le Caffe’ Bistro has good coffee and customer service. My friends from Experience Fitness go there all the time and I have heard good things about you. I go there now and again... We don't need a DD on Sunset....
John Smith February 19, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Anex the property to the city. Problem solved, drive thru installed.
John Smith February 19, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Mr. T Rocks!!!!

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