BATAVIA – Harry Mehta bought an established downtown Batavia gasoline station and convenience store a little more than three years ago.
It took him only a few months to realize that if his business was to be successful in a rapidly changing retail environment, he needed to offer his customers more than gasoline and the usual line of convenience merchandise.
Mehta quickly decided the best fit for his enterprise would be a Dunkin’ Donuts, complete with a drive-thru service lane and walk-up counter inside the store.
After three years of planning, considerable investment, public controversy and a lot of hard work, Mehta’s Shell of Batavia at 108 N. Batavia Ave. has opened the doughnut venture, and the success is already sweet.
Mehta reports a 30 percent increase in business since the Dunkin’ Donuts opened June 26.
“This is a really great town to do business in,” Mehta said. “Batavia customers are very loyal.”
And the improvements are not yet finished. Now operating under the Circle K brand, the convenience store is undergoing an ambitious renovation project that is expected to be complete early next month.
As a result, Mehta is sporting three well-known brands – Shell, Circle K and Dunkin’ Donuts – all at the high-profile corner of Route 31 and Houston Street.
Together, they give on-the-go customers a one-stop shop for gasoline, food and anything else they need in their busy lives.
Dunkin’ Donuts operates as a separate business, leasing 1,000 square feet in Mehta’s 3,300-square-foot store.
The shop provides a full line of doughnuts, muffins, bagels and croissants, along with other breakfast creations, sandwiches, wraps and, of course, the brand’s signature coffee, both piping hot or ice cold.
The manager for the Dunkin’ Donuts is Cameron Matherly of North Aurora, who was working at the chain’s store on Randall Road in Batavia when she grasped the opportunity to move up in her career.
“I see familiar faces from the other store,” Matherly said. “People couldn’t wait. I’m so glad we’re finally open.”
Between Mehta and Dunkin’ Donuts, about $1 million has been invested in the improvement project. A significant portion of the cost was for a retaining wall and other engineering work to accommodate the drive-thru lane.
Motorists wanting doughnuts and coffee without getting out of their vehicles can place their order at a menu board and then drive around behind the building to the service window, then continue their trip around the building to the exit.
For even faster service, Matherly said customers are using a downloadable Dunkin’ Donuts app on their mobile devices for on-the-go ordering, payment and pickup.
Although Mehta’s plans, particularly the drive-thru lane, drew some criticism from neighbors and required a lengthy approval process with the city of Batavia, Mehta persevered to achieve his goal.
“I’m really glad the city supported me, or this would be like the gas station at Wilson and Route 25,” Mehta said, referring to the shuttered Marathon station on East Wilson Street, which is soon to be demolished.
When complete, the Circle K project will include a hot food island, serving pizza, hot dogs, nachos and the like, and another area with fountain drinks. The general merchandise area is also being improved, and there will be a liquor department, for which Mehta already has secured a license from the city.
There is an indoor seating area for store customers, and an outdoor patio has been established and soon will be furnished, providing seating for about eight or 10 people, Mehta said.
Out in front, the Shell station has eight pumps for dispensing fuel.
The Shell and Circle K are open 24 hours a day, Mehta said. The Dunkin’ Donuts is currently open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., with plans to expand its hours of operation in a few months.