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Dunkin' Donuts' new frontier

Daily Ticker

Dunkin' Donuts has set its sights on California. This week the doughnut and coffee maker said it will open five locations in California this year, sooner than previously expected. The company's California expansion will grow to 54 new stores in Southern California over the next few years. The new branches will be located in Downey, Long Beach, Modesto, Santa Monica and Whittier; specific locations and opening dates will be announced this summer.

Southern California could be a challenging market for Dunkin' to conquer: kale salads are on every restaurant menu and vegan, wheat-free eateries are popular with locals. Dunkin Brands' (DNKN) CEO Nigel Travis shrugs off these concerns.

"Franchise owners think our products will do well in California," he tells The Daily Ticker.

Related: Coffee drinkers may have to pay a little more for Dunkin' Donuts java

There are currently three existing, non-traditional Dunkin' Donuts stores in California but the fast-food retailer expects to have as many as 1,000 in the state.

Travis says Dunkin's low-calorie menu (called DD Smart) will attract customers who are seeking healthy, nutritious meals on the go. Menu items include whole-wheat and multigrain bagels, reduced-fat muffins, egg white veggie wraps and oatmeal.

The company is heavily promoting its new grilled chicken flatbread sandwich, which has 360 calories and 28 grams of protein.

The Canton, Massachusetts-based company also plans to open new locations in Colorado and Texas in 2015.

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