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Seattle Is On A (Cinnamon) Roll


Up Front: PUDGEBALL NATION

SEATTLE IS ON A (CINNAMON) ROLL

FIRST COFFEE BARS, NOW bun shops. As it did with Starbucks, Seattle has launched another trendy chain, this one selling cinnamon buns. Like Starbucks, Cinnabon shops are popping up in cities across the land. Cinnabon sells huge, nine-ounce cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven, rich and sticky, dripping with margarine and spiced with Indonesian Korintji cinnamon. So what if a bun costs $1.89 and has 810 calories (a Minibon goes for $1.39, with 330 calories)? Long lines form outside Cinnabon shops.

Started in 1986, $100 million Cinnabon has averaged 25% annual sales growth. It now has 276 shops (about half franchised) in 37 states, Canada, and Mexico, with a 500-store goal by 2000. Its parent, Restaurants Unlimited, hopes to go public within three years.

The company calls its shops "bakeries" because customers can breathlessly watch the rolls being made. They come, says President Dennis Waldron, "for the emotional experience.... It's not a fuel stop." Oh, yes. Cinnabon also sells custom-blended coffee, called Rubymoon. After all, it's from Seattle.Dori Jones Yang


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