Couple Sues Dunkin' Donuts, Alleges Discrimination

Reggie and Amy Pretto once owned the Dunkin' Donuts store in Piney Orchard. They said the company lied to them about how much money the store would make.

A couple who once owned a is suing the coffee-and-donut chain for racial discrimination, alleging that the company gave more lucrative locations to white owners, the Boston Globe reported.

 The Globe said Reggie and Amy Pretto filed suit in New Jersey Superior Court, claiming that Dunkin’ Donuts steered them to franchises in poorer neighborhoods and lied to them about the projected revenues for stores in Maryland.

According to the report, the couple, who is black, approached Dunkin’ Donuts in 2004 to inquire about locations in New Jersey and New York. The company directed them instead to locations in poorer, predominantly African-American communities in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC, the couple said.

From the Globe:

Eventually the Prettos settled on several locations in Maryland, including Odenton, based on projections from Dunkin’ that the store there would average weekly sales of $15,500.

But their actual sales at the Odenton and other stores turned out to be substantially less, the Prettos said.


Court records show the Pretto’s owned the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Piney Orchard until 2007.


Read the full story in the Boston Globe.

Ronald August 22, 2012 at 01:31 PM
John August 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Ditto. When you operate a place in an area like this you life or die on repeat business. This isn't a tourist destination. When I come into anyone's place of business, if I'm treated like an imposition you'll never see me again. I expect a smile when I come in and a thank your or have a nice day when I leave. Owners can't blame their employees either. Diligent owners train and monitor their employees to weed out the ones with bad attitudes quickly.
Ronald August 22, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Thank you Brian. Even I have a lucit moment every so often. I think that this lawsuit would better be served with a 'simple' complaint to the Attorney-General's Office for review rather than a civil suit that - I agree - will go nowhere. The Justice Department actually has a Civil Rights division that investigates these types of alegations. My beliefe is that their lawyer sold them on the suit in the hopes of a settlement. This is all about money and not racism (or so it appears).
Arlene August 22, 2012 at 03:03 PM
The Odenton Dunkin Donuts is the worst. The staff and customer service is awful. The donuts are not great. Shoppers donuts are far bigger better and cheaper. The ice coffee is all ice ! It is not worth it for all the aggravation. As to the couple suing - they have nothing else they can base a case on. pathetic.
John August 22, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Try getting an ice cream there. The look you get is "oh great...now I have to scoop ice cream." Nope. I'll drive to Brusters. They're happy to see me.
Brian C. August 22, 2012 at 05:33 PM
LOL Ron ...did you mean "lucid" moment? LOL now that is funny...
Ronald August 22, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Family run business. Try getting a job there if you're not related. BUT the donuts and bagels are fresh and the coffee is good. If going past there I would stop in but now that I found the one close to Upper Marlboro the drive is worth waiting. What/where is Brusters? I'm always looking for a good ice cream cone on a hot Sunday afternoon.
Ronald August 22, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Typo -again - Brian. That is what I meant (sometimes it takes a while for the medication to kick in). LOL Ron
tracy moore August 22, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Again, without all the facts of this case, many of these comments are way off base..Again this article doesn't do justice what happene between Dunkin and this couple..Again, due dillegence was done for this site and that is directly related to the site requirement provided by Dunkin..which again is a large part of this case...so pls stop assuming it wasnt done which is why this is a major factor in this case. Also, pls stop assuming that racism doesn't not exist...There are legitimate discrimination cases out there and this is definately one of them. PERIOD!!!!!
Ronald August 22, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Just another source of protein.
Ronald August 22, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Tracy. Not drawing conclusions. Just stating the obvious. Has a complaint been filed with the Justice Department or just the courts for monetary reasons. Isn't it racism to accuse someone else of racism because you made a bad financial decision. The only thing worse than racism is those that try and justify it. PERIOD!!! PERIOD!!!! PERIOD!!!! See how good I spell as well. And stop slandering companies when you don't have all the facts either. How much time did they spend on site? How much did they put into training? Did they ever taste their own food? What did they do in order to verify what they were being told? Why DD instead of a different franchise? Sounds like you have a personal interest in all of this. Were you a silent partner? We all know racism exists. I just don't see it here and am sick and tired of have inferior products pushed on me and being called a racist if I choose not to buy them. The product line STUNK as did the service. That is the bottom line. Are we all racists on this blog because we won't jump on your bandwagon of slander?
tracy moore August 22, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Ronald, Again, since I know the couple involved I am privy to info that was disclosed in the article. No, I am not a silent partner or have any financial attachment to this case. Again, as I stated above, these owners (unlike any of the owners that followed them at this store) were on site EVERYDAY, 7 days a week -- open to close -- that I can guarantee you. So again service/committment was not an issue during their brief ownership...but again, as someone stated above once a place gets a bad rep its a wrap despite all efforts often times. And yes they were fully trained by corporate (as mandated) and so was their staff. Unlike what you and others would like to think this case is not about money. There is something out there called principle. They actually walked away from this horrible situation given all their losses years ago but then more and more allegations of racism began to rise with Dunkin that is what sparked this case.. Trust me, if they walk with away with not one penny that would be just fine with them because it's about exposing Dunkin and hoping that what happened to them does not happen to another franchisee! And I do not know for a fact that is was as well filed with the justice department, but I would assume so since many remedies were attempted before this suit was filed.
BadStatistics August 22, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Slander is spoken. Libel is written. Defamation occurs when one or both of the above have taken place.
John August 22, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Ronald, Brusters Ice Cream is in Crofton. Just Google "brusters ice cream crofton" for the address. It's in the same plaza as Five Guys, Vocelli's Pizza and Dicky's.
John August 22, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Tracy, I'd love more information about this. Can you be a bit more specific as to the unfair treatment that resulted in lost income?
BadStatistics August 22, 2012 at 07:53 PM
John, if you want more information, I suggest you read the filed complaint. http://www.unhappyfranchisee.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/FINAL-COMPLAINT-SHETTY-PRETTO-SIGNED.pdf
tracy moore August 22, 2012 at 07:56 PM
John, Of course..One major area of contention has to do with what the franchisees were specifically informed during their due diligence from the brand...again, due dilegence has a lot to do with site requirements that are largely determined by the franchisors..Every brand has it own as does Dunkin. For example, what the site requirements are for a McDonalds are not the same as for a Dunkin...this is a major issue in this case this and but for this, this couple perhaps would not have been in the situation they found themselves. Also, the were specific assurances and requirment by the brand (many which were written in the franchise agreement) that the brand failed to comply with...these are things that the brand reguraly did for other non-black franchisees (things that often determine the success or failure of the biz) but not for this couple. When you buy a franchisee you do it with certain obligations from the franchisor, that is why they are often very costly to obtain. This couple held up to their end of the bargin but Dunkin did not and that is an undisputable fact. the only blood suckers here is Dunkin...Rather than them doing the right thing they are hoping that their high price lawyers with once again get them out of this mess they created. PERIOD!!!
John August 22, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I guess one thing I'd want to know is if the previous owners couldn't make it work here, how are the current owners doing? Because of Dunkin can prove in court that the current owners are basically doing fine, then that's likely game, set and match.
tracy moore August 22, 2012 at 09:52 PM
John, it is very simple...again this location has changed ownership at least 4 times...the original owners paid a premium for this site to get it built...almost a million dollars..the subsequent owners were sold this site directly from dunkin for pennies on the dollar. Even with that signifigant advantage the following owners have struggled with this site...hence the multiple owners in only a few short years..this site has never been a profitable site to the owners ..an even now its probably jus a write off to however owns it...since Dunkin probably gave it away to the current franchisee for almost nothin (yes they do that) who owns tons of other stores an can afford to keep it for other reasons and close it down if it comes to it an not even blink.
Ronald August 22, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Now this I understand and support. If they did file with the Justice Department filing this civil suit will probably cancel the claim as the Justice Department usually drops claims that are already being litigate so your friends may have cut their own throats in this matter BUT as far as filing suit in order to feel better and in order to stand up for what they believe is an injustice I applaud them and thank them. I too have filed suits knowing that I would lose but being willing to lose in order to make it harder for them to continue their practices without consequence. I hope the suit helps them feel better and I hope they are getting good advice. Pouring good money after bad is not the way to make things right. It was I that made the statement about about bad reps and that alone should have been a warning sign for them before investing. Having said that I hope they can prove racism - otherwise they dimenish those that follow that are truly the victims of racism. I just don't see it.
Ronald August 22, 2012 at 10:49 PM
John - I tried Bruster's THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! Definitly most excellent. I have a new place to go on Sundays. LOL
tracy moore August 23, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Ronald, Maybe there is some hope...I'm wearing you down...even if it's just a little:-) lol...
Ronald August 23, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Tracy - not wearing me down. BUT if they have someone willing to speak up for them as convincingly as you are maybe it warrants another look. Whenever I hear racial discrimination accusations it raises a lot of flags for me. They're VERY lucky to have a friend like you. I wish more people did. Take care and stay well. LOL - Ron
Christina Tomlinson August 23, 2012 at 05:20 PM
It was! They never had anything! You go in for donuts and they had like a handful of stale ones. No variety. That turned me off. I went back once it was purchased and redone by the new owners. Much better!
Charles Mathews August 23, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Charles OK. First of all I worked side by side with the original owners for a year 1/2 when they had these stores in 2005-2006 so if you did not patronize the stores during that time frame you know nothing about them. You guys are making accusations on an article from a person that didn't even interview or write the original piece. It is an opinion of what he got from what he read. I just want to say that it is sad we live in a country that if a person feels they were discriminated against we automatically dismiss it as being false or someone taking the easy way out. So when is it legitimate? When we feel it is or is not?
Charles Mathews August 23, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Like I said I know them very well and this is what happened. Just to paint a picture of who they are, both are from great backgrounds, lived in affluent neighborhoods, graduated from prestgious universities, and had six figure incomes they gave up to persue their american dream of ownership that turned out to be a nightmare. Not only did Dunkin promise them things they could not deliver when things got bad they bailed on them. They were required to open 3 location 1 full production and 2 satellites. Dunkin does all the site reviews and evaluations years before they offer locations to franchisees in areas they want to grow their business.
Charles Mathews August 23, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Not only were these projections far off they were false. There was a serious problem that the franchisees were not privied to that prevented the development of the primary production facility that Dunkin should have caught in their site review. This problem prevented development for almost a year on the location that was suppose to produce all the bakery for itself as well as the other 2 satellites. Dunkin forced them to open the other 2 locations anyway threatening a breach of agreement if they didn't meet the contract deadline. Now they had 2 locations that could not produce their own donuts and they were paying a premium for bakery from other franchisees to make donuts for them, having to buy a truck to pick them up because they were refused delivery, and not to mention 10's of thousands of dollars a month in loans for a location that was nowhere close to being developed. Every ounce of profit the stores made went to cover problems preventable by Dunkin.
Charles Mathews August 23, 2012 at 06:51 PM
They didn't sit around blaming Dunkin and did their best for a year and a 1/2 to stay afloat. They only asked Dunkin to help with their legal influence with the undeveloped site or find a franchisee who were in a better positin to purchase the location. DUNKIN DID NOTHING! It wasn't until they filed for bankruptcy that Dunkin swooped in aquired the properties and sold them at a profit. The Odenton store so far has changed hands 4 times and the Bowie store 3 times and finally shut down in 2010. If the site for full production that Dunkin promised such a prime location why til this day has not yet been developed?
madmary August 26, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I really like the Annapolis DD shop. The staff is courteous and very nice. I think each DD franchise is different from another. It all depends who owns the franchise. The race card is so tiring.
Charles Mathews September 04, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I am a white american and to me that's like men saying women have no right to feel discriminated against when they do. If you don't experience it you can't see it. I don't know of any case where the "race card" was played that non blacks say it was justified.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something