|Canadian mainstay Tim Hortons is set to invade the Big Apple and do battle with American brands such as Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks. (TIM PECKHAM/Sun Media illustration)
NEW YORK -- There is about to be a doughnut war in New York.
Canadian institution Tim Hortons has announced that it will open 12 outlets in Manhattan on Monday, marking its first excursion into the Big Apple.
Dunkin' Donuts cannot be impressed, especially considering that the Tim Hortons locations will be installed at spots formerly occupied by the American coffee and doughnut icon.
As of Monday, New Yorkers will be able to buy Timbits instead of Munchkins and will sit on traditional brown Tim Hortons benches and chairs, in a beige-coloured restaurant decorated with green plants.
'HAS TO BE FUN'
The 12 Tims will be primarily located in Midtown, as well as two in Brooklyn.
The busiest new location will likely be the Pennsylvania train station (on 34th St.).
In an effort to charm New Yorkers, a huge marketing campaign is underway on radio stations and in newspapers, with rebate coupons and other special offers circulating throughout the city.
"We're talking about coffee and doughnuts after all, so it has to be fun," said Joseph de Nardo, marketing director for Reise Organization, the company that recently bought the franchising rights in New York and which already owns 113 restaurants in Manhattan.
Tomorrow, there will be free coffee all day at Penn Station as well as a press conference to mark the opening of the new locations.
Tim Hortons already has 527 locations in the United States, including Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Kentucky and Maine and western New York.
Tim Hortons will get involved in some serious coffee competition in the Big Apple, going up against the likes of McDonalds and Starbucks in addition to Dunkin' Donuts.
Recently, Krispy Kreme has also gotten into the game. And of course, there are always street vendors. Around Times Square alone, there are more than 38 Dunkin' Donuts.
So how will Tims fare in New York?
"We sell more than just doughnuts," said de Nardo. "We have a full kitchen so we can sell food all day and not only in the morning. New York likes change. In Canada, Tim Hortons is a religion so I don't see why it can't be the same kind of situation here."
During a recession, the company's low prices will also attract customers.
The news has already caught the attention of the New York Post, which has begun talking about "Donut Wars."
The New York Times refers to Tim Hortons as an invader from the North.
Tim Hortons is one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in the U.S., according to Harry Balzer, vice-president of the NDP Group, which studies the eating habits of Americans.
"There is enormous potential," he said. "It's a huge challenge, but I think that people are ready for a new type of coffee."
Tim Hortons will also open three counters at Cold Stone restaurants in Manhattan, including one in Times Square.
Other locations are being planned for elsewhere in New York.