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Subject: William Rosenberg, Founder of Dunkin' Donuts

No more time to make the donuts
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Date Posted: September 23, 2002 3:15:48 EDT

William Rosenberg, a food franchising pioneer who founded the Dunkin' Donuts chain and witnessed its spread from coast to coast and into 37 countries, has died. He was 86.

Mr. Rosenberg died on Friday at his home in Mashpee, on Cape Cod, the company said. The cause was bladder cancer.

After World War II, Mr. Rosenberg cashed in $1,500 in war bonds and borrowed an additional $1,000 to start a business serving coffee, pastries and sandwiches to factory workers.

He opened his first coffee and doughnut shop, called the Open Kettle, in Quincy in 1948. The name was changed to Dunkin' Donuts two years later.

The company is one of the world's largest coffee and baked goods chains, with about 5,000 locations.

"He had a passion for quality that he instilled in his organization and franchisees," said Jack Shafer, chief executive of Dunkin' Donuts, Baskin-Robbins and Togo's Eateries.

Born in Boston, Mr. Rosenberg demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. As a teenager during the Great Depression, he once carted a block of ice to a racetrack on a hot summer day and sold ice chips at 10 cents a piece, bringing home $171.

After pioneering the canteen truck a flip-open stainless steel truck catering to factories and construction sites Mr. Rosenberg, noting that most of his business came from coffee and doughnuts, decided to open a retail store.

He bucked the typical practice of selling four varieties of doughnuts and sold 52 kinds.

In 1955, hoping to accelerate the growth of the business, Mr. Rosenberg began selling franchises to other people, starting in Worcester.

In 1959, after the franchise idea had started to catch on, Mr. Rosenberg lobbied at a trade show for the creation of the industry group that became the International Franchise Association.

His son Robert Rosenberg kept the business growing and engineered the acquisition of Baskin-Robbins and Togo's, a sandwich chain, Mr. Shafer said.

Dunkin' Donuts was acquired in 1990 by the British food and spirits conglomerate Allied Domecq.

After handing over the company to his son more than 30 years ago, Mr. Rosenberg became involved in harness racing and opened Wilrose Farm in New Hampshire.

In addition to his son Robert, he is survived by his wife, another son, a daughter and a step-daughter.

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