“Everybody runs on Dunkin’,” the international donut franchise advertises, and more than one Leesburg resident probably will be running to Palm Plaza in two months when a new store opens there.
Bennett Walling, president of Walling Enterprises, the shopping center owner, said his company sold the half-acre lot where the Dunkin’ Donuts is being built in late August. He anticipates the new store will be approximately 2,000 square feet and open in February.
Walling Enterprises has owned Palm Plaza, which is anchored by a Publix and recently added a Taco Bell location, since the plaza was built in 1961.
Walling said that he is “trying to get a little life back” into Leesburg with recent changes at the plaza.
“I’m doing everything in my power to get stuff in Leesburg,” Walling said. “Leesburg needs to get going.”
He added that he wanted Leesburg to become more of a destination location.
While many new Dunkin’ Donuts are being paired with Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores, Walling said he did not think this would be the case with the store in Palm Plaza.
Robert Sargent, the public information officer for the city of Leesburg, said while the addition of a Dunkin’ Donuts may seem small in scale, it is a nice addition to Leesburg and it is indicative of bigger business growth that Leesburg is experiencing.
He added that Palm Plaza is a great asset.
While there are two stand-alone Dunkin’ Donuts stores in The Villages, two in Clermont, and one each in Lady Lake, Eustis and Wildwood, there are no stand-alone outlets in Leesburg. However, three Hess gas stations do sell Dunkin’ Donuts in the city.
Founded in 1950, Dunkin’ Donuts is based in Canton, Mass. It had 10,083 stores worldwide at the end of 2011, and locations outside the U.S. in more than 30 countries, according to the company’s website.
The franchise owner who purchased the lot in Palm Plaza could not be reached for comment about the number of employees that will be hired.
Kenya Santiago, a Leesburg resident who was shopping with her children at the Publix on Thursday, was pleased to hear about the addition of a Dunkin’ Donuts.
“I love Dunkin’ Donuts,” she said. “We’ll be happy to see one there.”