Will the new Dunkin’ reign supreme in a battle for breakfast?

Collyn Burke

What was once a littered alcove filled with everything from spray painted portraits of Johnny Cash to dead pigeons has been transformed into a neon oasis of reasonably priced coffee, ice cream and breakfast delights, lovingly referred to as Dunkin’ on the Drag.

Dunkin’ Donuts has opened its highly anticipated fourth Austin location more than a year after its “coming soon” sign was strung up on the corner of 24th and Guadalupe Streets. Once construction finally began, the excitement over the soon to be Dunkin’ reached a crescendo, sending UT students into a tizzy.

But with all the excitement surrounding the new Dunkin’ Donuts the question can be asked: How do the Drag’s other breakfast joints hold up?

The new Dunkin’ seems to have filled a needed void in the Drag breakfast lineup, bringing in a variety of breakfast items where its competitors seem to specialize in one or the other. Dunkin’ provides a new and shiny option for breakfast items in addition to sugary treats like donuts and ice cream. Dunkin’ also offers something rarely found near campus: reasonable prices on all of its items. For instance, a grande iced coffee will cost you $2.65 at Starbucks, and only $1.89 at Dunkin’.

Einstein Bros. Bagels, the closest in location to the new Dunkin’, might be the biggest threat to the new store. This Drag favorite has been serving up bagels and coffee to hungry students for years and has developed a loyal customer base. Even once the hype of Dunkin’ fades, Einstein’s could stand to lose part of that loyal customer base due to the fact that Dunkin’ provides far more options in terms of food, with a whole plethora of breakfast sandwiches from croissants, bagels and toast and donuts galore.

That brings us to the campus cult classic, Ken’s Donuts, which until Dunkin’, was one of the only places near UT to find a donut. Shut down in 2016 for health code violations, Ken’s donuts seems to have an oddly strong following. For those select few whose love for Ken’s can’t be doused by its 2016 health inspection score of 54 (yes, out of 100), Dunkin’s appearance is nothing, but the more squeamish of donut lovers will surely rejoice.

The final contender for Drag breakfast champion is an Austin classic, Kerbey Lane Cafe. While Dunkin’ offers more grab-and-go options, Kerbey has a diner feel, serving up pancakes and coffee at all hours. Kerbey will likely feel no harm from Dunkin’s arrival, and it will keep its title for Best Late-Night Breakfast, seeing as Dunkin’ only remains open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Dunkin’ Donuts arrival probably won’t harm the business of other breakfast venues because it fills a void that was previously missing from the Drag. While other eateries cater to a certain food or customer, Dunkin’ seems like it will check all boxes for someone just looking to grab a quick, affordable breakfast.

Dunkin’s true competition will probably come with Rise Biscuits and Donuts, the North Carolina chain set to replace Fuzzy’s sometime early this year. Rise Biscuits and Donuts seems similar to Dunkin’ variety of breakfast items, but will only remain open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All in all, Dunkin’ on the Drag is really just another Dunkin’ Donuts, aside from how long it took to get built and its flashy interior. It remains just one of many, and another link in the chain of the corporate takeover of the Drag. Only a lengthy wait and the overwhelming stresses of college life could make the appearance of a Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins combo store seem downright magical.