Southern California, get ready: East Coast favorite Dunkin' Donuts is planning a Golden State invasion.
The popular doughnut, munchkin and coffee chain said Wednesday that it plans to begin opening franchises in six Southern California counties starting in 2015.
Expansion to California, where the chain had a short-lived presence in past, has long been part of the brand's plans, according to CEO and President Nigel Travis.
Loyal Dunkin' Donuts fans in Californians have been clamoring for the chain to come back, Travis said.
"It's a no brainer," Travis told CNBC. "So many people have written to us, so many investors have asked us, and the question all the time is: 'When are you going to come to California?'"
The company opened 291 new locations in 2012, a growth rate of 4 percent. It wants to open between 330 and 360 new shops in 2013.
"This past year was an exciting one for Dunkin’ Donuts’ growth in the United States, and we are delighted to begin 2013 with the long-awaited announcement that Dunkin’ Donuts will be opening restaurants in California, where there is already incredible passion for our brand," Travis said in a press release.
The brand is starting in Southern California because it has a distribution center in Phoenix and "contiguous markets" there and in Las Vegas. The company will "bulk up" in the south and then move farther north in California.
Potential franchisees need to have the "right kind of net worth," Travis told on CNBC, adding that he's had interest from sports figures and people in show business.
Founded in 1950, the Massachusetts-based brand has more than 10,000 locations in 32 countries, with about 7,00o in the United States. The company's long-term goal is to have 15,000 locations in the United States alone.
Dunkin' Donuts is looking for franchisees who want to run multiple locations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties. The chain also wants to open small locations within colleges and universities, casinos, military bases, supermarkets and airports.
The company opened a location at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego County last year, but public access is limited.
There were approximately 15 Dunkin' Donuts franchises California in the late 1990s, and one location that opened in Sacramento in 2002. The locations closed "because the infrastructure did not exist to grow and expand in the state," according to a statement from Public Relations Manager Justin Drake.
The doughnut chain's parent company, Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc., also owns Baskin-Robbins. The ice cream chain that was founded in Glendale in 1945 and now has nearly 7,000 shops worldwide, with about 2,500 in 44 U.S. states. Baskin-Robbins has a strong presence in Southern California.