Formula Based Business – An Explanation

Many of you have questioned how a Dunkin Donuts could pass the test to not be formula. What is forgotten is that the institutions name cannot be used to determine formula. If we regulated by name, we would be zoning based upon who you are, not what you are. For this reason, Formula Based Business By-laws are tied to a set of standards that, when a certain number are present, constitutes a “Formula Based Business.

In Dennis we have established a set of standards that must be present for a business to be considered formulaic. These businesses are defined in the Definition:

FORMULA BASED BUSINESS: A type of retail sales establishment (not including consumer services), or a restaurant, tavern, bar, or other food establishment which is under common ownership or control or is a franchise and is one (1) of ten (10) or more other businesses or establishments worldwide maintaining three or more of the following features:

FORMULA BASED FOOD SERVICE

1.  Standardized menu

2. Trademark or service mark, defined as a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods from one party from those of others, on products or as part of the store design.

Such as on cups, napkins, bags, boxes, wrappers, straws, store signs, or advertising devices.

3.    A standardized façade.

4.  Standardized décor and color scheme used throughout the interior of the establishment.

5.  Standardized uniform including but not limited to aprons, pants, shirts, smocks or dresses, hat, and pins (other than name tags).

6.  Standardized signage.

For the Dunkin Donuts proposal on Route 6A, the applicant was working to bend the model to not be considered a formula based business. So let’s analyze the Dunkin Donuts proposal that was before the Planning Board on Route 6A.

1.  Standardized menu

The proposal called for a menu that was reduced in the number of items offered over a typical Dunkin Donuts. However, the menu was still Dunkin Donuts donuts, muffins and bagels along with the host of drinks it has become known for. I had chalked this one up as remaining standard, although the applicant asked that the reduced menu be considered non-standardized.

Score 1 for Standardized Menu.

2. Trademark or service mark, defined as a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods from one party from those of others, on products or as part of the store design.

Such as on cups, napkins, bags, boxes, wrappers, straws, store signs, or advertising devices.

The normal Dunkin packaging was never in question beyond the issue of paper versus plastic.

Score 2 for Trademark or service mark, etc.

3.    A standardized façade.

The proposal was to move into the existing Cape Farms Market with no exterior changes, there would be no standard Dunkin look like the Purple and Hot Pink they have become known for or even the more recent Tan and Black color scheme.

No standardization on facade.

4.  Standardized décor and color scheme used throughout the interior of the establishment.

The decor was not to change inside the Cape Farms Market.  The proposed counter area was to be an extension of the existing counter and would match the existing on-site characteristics. There was none of the Purple and Hot Pink they have become known for.

No standardization on decor.

5.  Standardized uniform including but not limited to aprons, pants, shirts, smocks or dresses, hat, and pins (other than name tags).

The applicant had declared that the employees would not be required to wear the standard Dunkin Donuts uniforms (most recently the tan and black attire). Instead they could either wear their own clothing, or a shirt that matched the Cape Farms Market shirt.

No standardization on uniforms.

6.  Standardized signage.

The proposal was to add in gold leaf to the existing blue Cape Farms Sign “Featuring Dunkin Donuts.” This would not have matched the Purple and Hot Pink signs of Dunkin Donuts. Nor was it matching the green and white sign at the Route 6A Dunkin Donuts in Brewster. It would have been unique in the area and the chain and not a standardized Dunkin Donuts sign.

No standardization on signage.

In the end what we get is that the proposal only was “standardized” on two of the six items. It did not cross the three item threshold that defines Formula Based Business in the Dennis Zoning By-law.  The test adopted by Dennis Town Meeting.

The Planning Board is required to fairly and evenhandedly apply the Dennis Zoning By-law. The Formula Based Business By-law was to protect various parts of town from standardization. It was not designed to keep any particular entity out of these areas, the only way to do that is to prohibit the particular land use entirely, in this case, prohibiting coffee shops/bakeries/restuarants in the Limited Business District.

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One thought on “Formula Based Business – An Explanation

  1. Pingback: “Keep Dunkin Off Route 6A” – Part 1 | Town of Dennis, MA Planning Weblog

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