NYC Gets Emotional About Tim Hortons

Last Updated Jul 20, 2009 5:56 PM EDT

Canadian coffee/doughnut chain Tim Hortons abruptly made its way into New York City recently with franchise operator Riese Restaurants replacing 12 of its former Dunkin' Donuts stores. The switch was fast, with the stores changing their signage and products over a weekend, right after the Reise announcement.

More surprising than the quick changeover, though, are the many reactions New Yorkers are expressing. And like most things in the Big Apple, opinions about Tim Hortons' foray into the city are extreme.

The Dunkin' Donuts following in New York isn't quite as rabid as it is in Boston, but there are plenty of people in the city that love the chain. After news of the Hortons switchover, many of those fans were upset, even though there are still hundreds of Dunkins within the city limits.

Some Dunkin' supporters are even getting strangely patriotic. "It's not American. I can't do it," one interviewee told the Daily News, after finding that Tim Hortons replaced Penn Station's Dunkin'. Said a woman to The New York Times after learning of the same Dunkin' getting the boot: "They better not do this in Queens or Long Island."
New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo, no fan of Dunkin or franchise operator Riese, wasn't happy with his Tim Hortons, either. In a column titled "Yecchh! Flunkin' Donuts!," he writes: "I found them even lousier than Dunkin' -- gummier in the mouth with no discernible flavor improvement."

But many Canadians in New York and New Yorkers who make trips across the border (or visited one of the other 400 Tim Hortons in the United States) are excited. A Vancouver, British Columbia, native is happy that his "frantic runs to Canada to buy tins of Tim Hortons coffee are over."
The blogger over at Midtown Lunch, familiar with the chain, affectionately calls their iced cappuccinos "ice cold crack in a cup, and I will probably drink one every day between now and the end of summer."
In a Daily News taste test between the two chains, Tim Hortons was the winner. An amNY.com poll showed similar results.

Love the chain or hate it, New Yorkers better get used the Tim Hortons. More of them are coming, and the Ontario-based company even plans to pair some future units with Cold Stone Creamery outlets.