The event was covered nationally on The Today Show, CNBC, and Fox News. Additionally it was covered through dozens of local media outlets. In fact, I was even interviewed!
The LIRR Passage location is being portrayed as the flagship, and this is where the opening ceremonies took place this morning at 6am. Over a dozen reporters and camera operators were on hand as the first curious customers entered the facility. All but maybe six or seven were not here especially for Tim Hortons, but rather were, in their morning grogginess, trying to figure out what happened to their Dunkin' Donuts, and, navigate the new menu for replacements for their usual order.
Their were a few complaints to be heard. One man asked a manager where he could find the Splenda packets that had been in a plastic container under the Dunkin' regime. He was not satisfied with the answer to simply ask for Splenda in his coffee, as he'd been doing it himself for years. Truce was found by asking the counter staff for some packets.
Several customers streamed in by surprise but immediately recognized the brand and seemed very joyful of its arrival. Some had lived in Canada and border territories where it was nothing new, others had experienced it during their travels.
I ordered a large coffee and a 12-grain bagel with cream cheese after learning that the sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich was not available this morning. The bagel tasted fresh and crispy and the coffee was all it had been hyped up to be.
The coffee is very strong caffeine-wise, but amazingly mild roast wise. I can hardly understate the strength. I drank one large coffee and one small coffee between 6:05 and 6:40, and I was completely wired until after lunch around 1:30 in the afternoon.
Tim Hortons did indeed successfully manage to convert almost all of its Dunkin' Donuts to Tim Hortons over the weekend (see the Today Show link above for some brief conversion footage). The lone closed locations today were the Amtrak Passage location, which has been closed for months for a large-scale renovation, and the two Downtown Brooklyn locations. My theory on these later locations is that they were closed to provide the Manhattan locations with additional staff on this hectic day, as there was at least some indication on Twitter that these locations were complete.
Tim Hortons had a bit of a media blunder late last week when dozens of media outlets were reporting of the mass weekend conversion but Hortons' US PR Twitter feed was denying the reports. Today, however, everyone was on board. Tim Hortons launched a special webpage for New York City, and even the Twitter feed came around in the afternoon, when an official press release was posted on the Tim Hortons website.
After the two pending Brooklyn locations open (presumably this week), and the second Penn Station location opens later this summer, there will be 13 Tim Hortons in New York City. Add the three co-branded locations expected in August, and that makes 16. While pale in comparison to the 400+ Dunkin' Donuts locations and the hundreds of Starbucks locations in the city (comparision map between 2006 Starbucks and today's Tim Hortons), these new locations are in extremely high-traffic areas. For example, while Starbucks still has two locations in the same passageway as the new Tim Hortons, Dunkin' Donuts is no longer anywhere to be found in Penn Station. Hortons is now positioned for a sizable chunk of a sizable chunk of Manhattan's coffee purchases.
Notably absent from the location map are Financial District locations. Apparently Riese is no longer selling coffee down there. This would be another key market for Tim Hortons to get into. New York City's third-largest business district, Downtown Brooklyn, will have two locations soon, covering it decently well. The Upper West Side and Upper East Side get one location each.
Besides the Flagship Times Square location, we still don't know which Coldstone Creameries will receive Tim Hortons next month. The potential locations are (see map):
- Hell's Kitchen
- Upper West Side
- The Village
- Harlem (under construction)