Who is winning the latest battle in Dayton’s doughnut wars?

It was in the fall of 2016 that the former Dayton-area franchisee for Tim Hortons fired the first shot of the Miami Valley’s doughnut wars, when he issued a public challenge of sorts against rival national chain Dunkin’ Donuts.

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That challenge didn’t pan out quite the way he envisioned. Three years later, based on recent developments with both chains and their Dayton-area footprint, Tim Hortons — now under different franchise ownership — is retreating, while Dunkin’ is heading the opposite direction.

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Tabbassum Mumtaz, CEO of restaurant franchise company Ampex Brands, told this news outlet in a November 2016 interview that his firm intended to open as many as  10 new Tim Hortons locations over the subsequent three years in the Dayton area.

In a relatively rare mention of a direct competitor, Mumtaz said his company is “looking forward to competing with Dunkin’ Donuts” in the Miami Valley, which is also home to several strong independent, locally owned doughnut shops with fiercely loyal followings.

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But in the following three years, those plans for a surge of new Tim Hortons locations stalled. In May 2018, a spokesman for Ampex brands acknowledged that the company was “taking a breather from Tim Hortons for now” in the Dayton market. At some point after May 2018, Ampex sold the local Tim Hortons franchise ownership to another company, Kava Restaurants. Neither the former owners nor the new owners responded to an inquiry on when the sale took place.

>> DONUT WARS: Tim Horton's to open 10 Dayton-area shops, challenge Dunkin' (November 2016)

And earlier this month, on Sept. 4, four Dayton-area Tim Hortons locations shut down abruptly. The chain retains a significant footprint in the region with more than a dozen locations, but it closed restaurants on Far Hills Avenue at Whipp Road in Washington Twp., on Needmore Road along I-75 in Dayton, on Miller Lane in Butler Twp., and on Springboro Pike (Ohio 741)in Miami Twp.

>> The Latest: TIM HORTONS CLOSINGS: At least 4 Dayton-area restaurants shut down abruptly

This news outlet submitted multiple questions about the closings to Tim Hortons officials, and received a two-sentence statement that said, “This closure is part of our normal course of business. Tim Hortons remains committed to growth in all markets, including the U.S.” Subsequent attempts to seek comment, from the Tim Hortons corporation and from its Dayton-area franchise owner, were unsuccessful.

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Meanwhile, the local franchisee for Dunkin’ — the chain officially dropped the “Donuts” from its name on Jan. 1 of this year — has opened locations in Kettering, Centerville, Sugarcreek Twp., Miami Twp., Fairborn, Washington Twp., Springfield and Riverside in the last five years. And workers today are busy at two sites to bring two more stores to the Dayton area, on North Fairfield Road at Lantz Road in Beavercreek, and on Harshman Road in Dayton. Both are expected to open this fall.

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Pat Gilligan, the Dayton and southwest Ohio franchisee for Dunkin’, vowed in 2013 to open as many as 13 new Dunkin’ shops in the Miami Valley over the coming years, after the Dunkin’ Donuts local footprint had shrunk to one store in Miami Twp. that was (and still is) co-branded with Baskin Robbins Ice Cream. Six years later, Gilligan is well on his way to fulfilling his promise.

Gilligan told this news outlet in an interview last week that the region’s Dunkin’ stores are performing “very well.”

>>RELATED: Dunkin’ Donuts to open 13 new Dayton-area locations (February 2013)

“Our same-store sales are growing substantially, and they are over budget,” Gilligan said.

He is still scouting for new locations. “We’re still negotiating for new deals in Dayton, and we are opening three more stores in Cincinnati this year,” Gilligan said.

>> Dunkin' Donuts to change its name to simply ‘Dunkin’’

Gilligan said he didn’t want to comment on the Tim Hortons closings.

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