HANFORD – Dunkin' Donuts opened its first Central Valley location Wednesday in Hanford, and local residents showed up in droves.
They jammed the drive-thru with long lines of cars.
They lined up outside the front door, with some reportedly camping out the night before to be first in line when the business opened at 5 a.m.
At 9:30 a.m., the long lines were still there.
"We had to come out and try it," said Hanford resident Jason Lopez.
He put his hand on the shoulder of his son, Jayden.
"This guy loves doughnuts," he said.
Lopez said he favors Krispy Kreme but was willing to give Dunkin' a shot.
Like many local residents, Lopez had never been to a Dunkin' Donuts store before.
Many people standing in line had kids or grandchildren in tow.
"This is my granddaughter," said Hanford resident Deanna Drewry, pointing to Ensley Drewry. "She really likes doughnuts. I like doughnuts too, unfortunately."
"I wanted to try it," said Hanford resident Laura Terrazas. "My husband came out [earlier] this morning. He said the breakfast bagel was pretty good."
Terrazas said she's already bought Dunkin' Donuts packaged coffee from stores. She likes it.
She figures Dunkin' Donuts is "the new thing in Hanford."
Hanford resident Maria Medina was there to try one of the Starbucks-type iced coffee drinks Dunkin' Donuts sells.
She came prepared for the long line.
"I actually thought it would be longer," she said.
Hanford is the first Central Valley location for the popular East Coast-based chain. Seventeen are planned in Clovis, Visalia and Tulare.
The Hanford store is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week and employs 75 people, according to a company statement.
The location offers free Wi-Fi.
The company, which had previously only had stores in Southern California, plans to eventually open a total of 37 locations statewide.
There are more than 12,200 Dunkin' Donuts locations in 45 countries, including more than 8,800 in the U.S.
The opening of the Hanford store has been a long time coming.
It was one of several new restaurants – the others were Buffalo Wild Wings, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Pieology – to sign lease agreements with Hanford Mall officials last summer. Mall officials were hoping to have them all open by the end of the summer.
As time dragged on, and there seemed to be little progress at the Dunkin' Donuts location, local residents began to wonder if the company had pulled out of the deal to come to Hanford.
A Dunkin' Donuts spokeswoman, Amy Scarlett, offered reassurance in September 2016 that the business was coming "in late 2016 or early 2017."