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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.
Chrissy February 13, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Well said Mr. Radke. Thank you for your professionalism. Lots of valid points, I sincerely hope that the planning commission takes them into consideration.
michelle February 13, 2013 at 04:35 AM
Just what we don't need is another place for people to hang out at.
chris kendziora February 13, 2013 at 02:30 PM
We need to encourage them too use some of the space @ Fox Run which BTW is a ghost town and not encourage new buildings when we have too many empty ones?!!! Poor thinking!!!
Mr Lundt February 13, 2013 at 02:49 PM
There is NEVER a problem with opening another business Michelle. The people will determine if it is needed. I do have some concerns that Le Caffe’ Bistro was denied a drive through and DD was not. I get the location in relationship to Sunset are totally different...it may have been the specific Le Caffe’ Bistro plan that was rejected. I think that needs to be addressed and clarified. I congratulate Mr Radke on his professional attitude with this...very classy.
KKM February 13, 2013 at 02:52 PM
How about putting it up near the old Kmart to revitalize that area! Mr. Radke has valid points and this would put his business in jeopardy. They have been an asset to the area with a shiney bit of class that is sorely lacking on Sunset. When the DD opened on Grandview it was busy, now it's just a same old fast food joint. The donuts don't have the taste they used to either. We get better ones at Pick and Save and Sentry. We don't need another fast food place.
Mr Lundt February 13, 2013 at 03:06 PM
KKM If your claims are true, Le Caffe’ Bistro will continue and DD will fail. We don't need government pre determining that for us.
jodi February 13, 2013 at 04:04 PM
Well said Mr Radke! I have never been to Cafe Bistro but will make a point to stop in the next time I am on that side of town. You are the kind of business I want to support!
KKM February 13, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Local business doesn't have the luxury of waiting for another business that is scarfing meager profits from them to eventually fail. Their's and our bottom line is good stewardship and ambience to the neighborhood. I don't see DD doing that. We all know why DD was granted a drive though. Local Government...determined that! That issue should be investigated. Big Buisness comes in every day and drives the local merchants out thus changing the unique character of the area.
Tiffany Marshall February 13, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Yey DD!! I'd love a Chipotle tho!
Concerned Resident February 13, 2013 at 04:58 PM
I can appreciate Mr. Radke's feedback however, that stretch of Sunset is already dangerous. The oversized semi-trucks that deliver to Weldall on Prairie Avenue and SPX (Waukesha Electric) on Sentry Drive are road hazards to the residents that travel in that area. Its just a matter of time before the extreme loads they carry seriously injure or kill someone. I am a HUGE fan of Dunkin Donuts coffee and I look forward to the possibility of this new coffee shop opening. However, I do hope it's not a 24 hour operation because that will encourage the semi-trucks that deliver to Weldall to park overnight more often than they already do without any consequences; such as officials enforcing local ordinances to protect taxpayers. Good luck Mr. Radke - your professionalism did not go unnoticed!
Mr Lundt February 13, 2013 at 05:03 PM
KKM I acknowledged the drive thru should be investigated however even a quick glance at the locations of the two buildings suggest why the decision was different. People should be allowed to shop where they please big business succeeds here because consumers WANT it here. They prove it by spending money there. Cafe Bistro is also right down the road from a Starbucks---Cafe Bistro is in business because its good and better.
Concerned Resident February 13, 2013 at 05:21 PM
The Starbucks you are referring to is inside Target - I don't think that is the same as a stand-alone Starbucks competitor.
Patti February 13, 2013 at 06:12 PM
People ....these are not just donuts, these are Energy Rings!!! @michelle....yes, another place to hang out for a bible study. I guess that's a crime!
Concerned Resident February 13, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Ditto - Chipotle would be awesome!
Mr Lundt February 13, 2013 at 06:34 PM
CR Its close enough. No one is going to go to both in Starbucks and Le Caffe’ Bistro in the same morning. What I hope you can tell is that I'm supporting Le Caffe’ Bistro but not at the expense of having the government decide which coffee shop is OK.
Concerned Resident February 13, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Mr Lundt, you are missing my point. Target opens at 8am Monday thru Friday therefore, so does that Starbucks you are referring to. Stopping there for coffee in the morning is not an option for most people that have to be to work. A stand-alone Starbucks opens at 5am . The Bistro opens at 6am.
Jaime Lannister February 13, 2013 at 09:38 PM
Cafe Bistro needs a better location. It is a lovely place, but the traffic and parking situation in that lot is already difficult and it's hard to imagine where a drive through could fit in without adding to the problem of a parking lot that is already too small to maneuver without excessive turning or putting the car in reverse. The site next to St. Vincent De Paul has acres and acres of open parking and plenty of room to drive around in.
Jerry Bean February 14, 2013 at 02:58 AM
First off, DD is more in line with the tastes of those in our fair town. Le Cafe Bistro is clearly French and therefore has no place in this town (Think Waukesha, do you want your kids eating ethnic food like that and sipping local coffees? Might as well get them a Vote Nader lapel pin too). Secondly, I know our bulky community will wheeze with joy and waddle over to the DD for round after round after round of freshly fried and glazed donuts. Good, American donuts. We've got two or three good months when it opens before all the heroin addicts start to scurry over from the nearby shoppes to beg for change and ask for pills. But I know I'll enjoy heaving down countless donuts with the rest of my fellow citizens instead of partaking in a *French* restaurant (Shameful!)
EasyE February 14, 2013 at 03:07 PM
If Le Caffe’ Bistro has stellar coffee, they should have nothing to worry about because Dunkin Donuts coffee is not!
Pennyluhu February 14, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Le Caffe is a wonderful place to "hang out". I'd like to know where Michele hangs out so I can avoid. J. Bean is a moron. The last thing we need on Sunset is more fast & fat foods. I agree there are too many empty buildings nearby for the town to even consider allowing new construction. My best wishes to the Radkes. They are the kind of business owners Waukesha needs
WaukRes February 15, 2013 at 04:11 AM
I hope people will stop and look at the traffic generated by Culver's on the same stretch of Sunset and in the ToW. There is not a turn lane for that fast food spot. There IS a LEFT turn lane from Sunset on to Center Road. but often cars barrel down Sunset from the west into this lane. This has been a source of many near miss situations. You can ask anyone who lives south of Sunset. And right down Center Rd are the ToW offices. hopefully Ms. Van Scyoc and the gang will drive down and observe this some night between 5 and 6 PM. I hope the town board can be as sensitive to the nearby neighbors as they are to other properties in ToW.
Realist February 17, 2013 at 05:27 PM
I couldn't agree more with waukres. I personally have had more than a few close calls turning from sunset onto center. That was horrible planning on someone's part.
michelle February 18, 2013 at 01:05 AM
I agree with you KKM 100%
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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