Despite Dunkin’s Postponed ZBA Presentation; Owner Confident He’ll Get An OK for Store

Photo: An image of how the Dunkin’ Donuts on Pleasant Street would look like.

Belmont residents will need to wait until the New Year before getting their chance to debate whether the town wants to run with a third Dunkin’ Donuts, located at the corner of Pleasant and Brighton streets.

Belmont’s Joseph Noone, the attorney for Vincent and Nicholas Leo, asked the board for a postponement on Monday, Dec. 7, due to attorney/client “issues,” resulting in a dozen or so residents who came to speak to keep their powder dry for a month.

The ZBA rescheduled the hearing for January.

While the decision was a bit unexpected, according to the property owner, Vincent Leo – who also is a well-known Dunkin’ Donuts owner/operator – isn’t fazed by the delay, confident that once residents hear from him and his family, any “concerns” to having a donut shop as a neighbor will be set aside.

“We have been in business for over 35 years, and I am one of the premier Dunkin’ Donut franchisees in the system,” said Vincent, whose family business owns and operates 19 locations in both Massachusetts and Florida.

Vincent said the Pleasant Street property has been an eyesore for decades “and we are trying to make it right.” The Getty Corporation is currently remediating the land. 

“We are going to enhance that whole corner, elevating all of the property values in the surrounding neighborhood,” he said. The family purchased the property for $1,060,000 in July 2014.

Read about the proposed plans for the site here.

Leo said that the City of Cambridge had complimented his operations “many, many times for our passion with the landscape as well as the maintenance of the property.

He reiterated that there would “never be a drive through” at the Pleasant Street location. 

Leo said he believes a Belmont store “will enhance our little micro-market” that includes shops on Mass. Ave., Alewife and Fresh Pond.

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Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owner Vincent Leo (at the door, left) and his son, Nicholas, (door, right) listen to their attorney, Joe Noone, as he speaks before the Zoning Board of Appeals, Dec. 7, 2015.

“It’s just another niche we’re trying to protect and develop as an investment,” he said. 

As for issues of traffic – the intersection of Pleasant and Brighton is known as a choke point for both daily rush hours – Leo said a traffic study that he included with his application to the town, predicts no added vehicle trips due to the inclusion of a donut shop on that spot. 

While some residents have pointed to how close the site is to Route 2, Leo said his experience with his stores in Medford just off Route 93 shows that “no one gets off a highway to grab a coffee then heads back on it.” 

“It’s always a concern when they hear a brand like Dunkin’ Donuts is coming into a neighborhood. But at the end of the day, when the restaurant is in place, you’d be very surprised that it’s not a hindrance at all,” said Leo, noting there are several “as of right” businesses he could locate there that would increase traffic flow and litter. 

“With the type of building we are putting in, it will not be a barnburner regarding sales. This will be a nice neighborhood location that should be profitable and help us with the investment we made,” said Leo.

“It will be a nice place to come in for a cup of coffee,” he said. 

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