A line of anxious and hungry customers waited for pink frosted, sprinkle-topped donuts, a quick sandwich or a mid-day cup of caffeine at the noon ceremony on Wednesday. For Tim Hortons, though, the opening symbolized the beginning of a new chapter in the story of the Ontario-based company.
"We look to UB as the flagship location for us in the United States," said David Clanachan, Tim Hortons chief operations officer, United States and international. "If we can continue to push and penetrate the way we have in other markets, we think there is a tremendous amount of opportunity."
Two Tim Hortons are open at UB's North campus, one in the Jacobs Management Center and another in the Student Union. They both serve a full menu. The Jacobs Management Center store opened two weeks ago, but the official ceremony was held at the Student Union, where the bakery items are made.
For Chelsea Lopez, a junior at Hutch Tech High School and the first customer in line, the opening was timely for her lunch break. She is a participant of the Upward Bound summer program on campus and grabbed a toasted plain bagel with cream cheese, to go.
"Tim Hortons is very popular," she said. "Sometimes it gets old going to Starbucks every day."
UB approached Tim Hortons about a campus location after it conducted a survey and focus groups, asking students and faculty what stores and businesses they would like on campus. Tim Hortons was the overwhelming answer, said Dennis Black, vice president for student affairs.
It took 90 days from the first serious discussions to the end of construction, Clanachan said. The construction had to be completed by July 9, when student orientation began.
Jeff Brady, executive director of food service, said that a portion of the profits will go back to UB. Both UB and Tim Hortons declined to give specific figures.
There are currently 123 Tim Hortons on college campuses in Canada. Soon, more will join UB in the United States. Plattsburgh State College is expected to open a Tim Hortons in mid- September, and one is due at Canisius College in October, said Dale Kezer, director of new business development.
Clanachan said that by the year's end, the current 410 Tim Hortons -- concentrated mostly in Michigan, Ohio and Northeast markets -- will be up to 500 stores.
Among college students, the popular orders are iced cappuccinos and bagels, said Jon Maurer, Tim Hortons regional manager for Buffalo.
Maurer said of overall sales, 50 percent are beverages, 25 percent are baked goods, and the rest are various items, including soups and sandwiches.
Even though Starbucks is directly across the street from the Student Union, Clanachan brushed off the threat of its coffee competitor. He said Tim Hortons is a comfortable and affordable location for a wider audience.
"With $4 a gallon gasoline, no one wants to pay $5 for coffee," he said.
Source: Plain Vanilla Shell