The new Dunkin’ Donuts franchise expected to open in Squirrel Hill on Tuesday, Sept. 29 — the morning after Yom Kippur — will be kosher, the company has said.
Robin Frederick, vice president of human resources and marketing, at Pittsburgh-based Heartland Restaurant Group — the franchisee — said her company is working with the Vaad Harabonim of Greater Pittsburgh to become a certified kosher establishment.
“We are working with the rabbi to go kosher, and we’re awaiting a couple last minute things to assure all our products are kosher,” Frederick said.
She did not elaborate what those things are, but she expects the certification process to be complete by the time the store opens at 5 a.m.
“When we open we will be kosher,” she said.
The franchise would be the only nations fast food store in Pittsburgh that is kosher.
Frederick was holding training classes this week for employees at the kosher Dunkin’ Donuts, which is located at the corner of Forbes and Shady avenues in Squirrel Hill.
Rabbi Daniel Wasserman, a spokesman for the Vaad, said that if the Vaad does certify Dunkin’ Donuts, the store will not have to be cholov yisroel — the term for dairy products made under Jewish supervision — because it is not a Jewish institution and will not primarily serve the Jewish community.
Kosher franchises are nothing new for Massachusetts-based Dunkin’ Donuts.
Corporate spokesman Andrew Mastrangelo didn’t have an exact figure, but said anywhere from 30 to 40 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises nationwide are kosher.
“Anecdotally, I’ve been told we have among the most [kosher franchises among fast food chains], but I have no hard data to back that up,” Mastrangelo said.
But he knew that Dunkin’ Donuts has guidelines a franchisee must follow to become kosher, including demonstrating a demand for the product to the corporate office and following the procedure set down by the local certification authorities
“In other words, don’t call yourself kosher, and not live up to that standard,” Mastrangelo said.
Heartland Restaurant Group, which already has stores Downtown, Butler, Belle Vernon, Tarentum, Penn Hills and Verona, plans to eventually open 105 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises in the Pittsburgh area over the next nine years. Another Squirrel Hill store is slated for Browns Hill Road.
It’s not the first time an area donut franchise has gone kosher. A South Hills franchise of Krispy Kreme Donuts was certified in 2003. That store eventually went out of business.
(Staff writer Toby Tabachnick contributed to this story. Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)