Baskin-Robbins is unveiling Wednesday the ice cream chain’s next generation store, a format that includes elevating the prominence of its classic 32 flavors, adding handheld ice cream novelties and upgrading the decor with modern fixtures and artwork that reflect the local community.
The Canton, Mass.-based subsidiary of Dunkin’ Brands said the Fresno, Calif., store will act as a model for new and remodeled shops in 2019. The design, dubbed “Moments,” is a year and half in the making. It is meant to showcase the 75-year-old brand’s ice cream in a “more premium way,” said Jason Maceda, senior vice president of Baskin-Robbins in the U.S. and Canada.
One of the biggest changes is the addition of an “Ice Cream Novelties” collection. The new treats, showcased in a separate case, include hand-dipped frozen treats such as chocolate-dipped bananas, smoothie bars, and Polar Pizza slices. Polar Pizza is a round baked good made to look like a pizza with a chocolate chip cookie or a double fudge brownie base layered with ice cream, and toppings such chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and rainbow sprinkles.
Maceda said the “handheld indulgent snacks” will be part of new and remodeled stores including a second location opening early next year in El Paso, Texas.
That store, which has a drive-through, will be among six to 10 new or remodeled Baskin-Robbins stores scheduled to adopt the Moments design in 2019. Maceda said the Fresno and El Paso locations will act as a testing ground for learning how customers respond to the changes.
Stores have not been remodeled since the Flavors 1.0 design was introduced in 2013. This latest makeover is aimed at making the stores more inviting and engaging, Maceda told Nation’s Restaurant News in a phone interview Tuesday morning.
As they walk in, customers will see a digital menu board listing all the flavors, prices and topping options. In most older stores, Baskin-Robbins only displays flavors at the case, often holding up the line as customers can’t see their ice cream options until they order.
Maceda said the new ice cream cases are sleek and are no longer angled, offering a better view of the ice cream.
The seating area has been transformed with contemporary furniture replacing plastic chairs and tables. Seats include a mix of blue upholstered banquettes, cushioned yellow swivel chairs and industrial-looking aluminum chairs. The shop also has patio seating next to a garage door that opens to create an indoor-outdoor space when weather permits, Maceda said.
The inviting features, which includes local artwork, creates a place where guests “can get away from the hectic world,” he said.
At the Fresno store, a wall mural features local landmarks including forest campsites and local parks. New stores going forward will also feature distinct artwork that will set them apart from other locations — a stark contrast to cookie-cutter designs of the past.
“A typical franchisee concept wants everyone to look the same,” Maceda said. “I do not want that.”
Still, features that customers have come to expect in coffee shops and quick-service restaurants, such as free Wi-Fi and power outlets, are not part of the next-gen store in Fresno.
As for menu, the core flavors will remain the same but with one significant addition coming: affogatos.
In stores that are co-branded with its sister brand, Dunkin’, Baskin-Robbins plans to serve espresso poured over ice cream. Dunkin’ announced plans earlier this month to add affogatos as part of an overhaul to its espresso beverage program.
Of the more than 2,500 Baskin-Robbins U.S. stores, 1,300 are co-branded locations.
While drive-thru lanes are not part of the Moments design, Maceda said Baskin-Robbins will add drive-thru lanes where it makes sense — a strategy the chain has had for years. The brand has about 100 standalone Baskin-Robbins stores with drive-thrus, and about 700 co-branded locations have drive-thrus.
The new Fresno store is at 6761 North Milburn Ave.
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