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Tim Hortons makes its way to town

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Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010

Pittsburgh Penguins fans soon will be able to buy a Tim Hortons donut and coffee on the way to their seats at the Consol Energy Center.

The restaurant chain plans to begin serving honey-dip and chocolate-glazed donuts as well as honey crullers and other trademark pastries at two kiosks in the arena in time for the Penguins' first regular-season home game Oct. 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers, said Tim Hortons spokesman David Morelli.

It will be the first time Pittsburghers will be able to buy food from the Ontario, Canada-based company. The closest stores to Pittsburgh are in eastern Ohio and Wheeling, W.Va. There also are locations in northwestern Pennsylvania.

If the kiosks are successful, it's possible a Tim Hortons restaurant could come to Pittsburgh as part of the company's strategy to build 300 stores in the United States in the next four years. About 90 stores will be built in new markets, Morelli said.

"Coming into the Consol arena really builds on our connection with hockey and how we have been growing our presence in the U.S. through a lot of sports relationships," Morelli said.

Tim Hortons serves Joe Louis Arena in Detroit; Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, and HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y. It is the exclusive coffee provider to Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Tim Hortons has built a national TV advertising campaign in Canada around Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who is from Nova Scotia.

Crosby supports the company's charitable Timbits Minor League Hockey program, which raises money to provide about 200,000 children ages 5 to 9 with hockey jerseys, competition medals and opportunities to play hockey, soccer and other sports.

When Crosby was 5 in 1993, he was a Timbit team member. He wore jersey No. 8 and played center. A Timbit is the name of a bite-sized donut the chain sells.

Food service giant Aramark began serving Tim Hortons coffee, hot chocolate and other hot drinks in Consol Energy Center suites and concession stands when the arena opened Aug. 18 with a performance by Paul McCartney. Aramark is serving as the Tim Hortons franchisee.

Wendy's International Inc. bought Tim Hortons in 1995. Wendy's spun the chain into an independent company in 2006 when influential shareholders urged Wendy's to reduce its costs.

Tim Hortons has 600 U.S. locations and 3,600 in North America. The company was started in 1964 by hockey player Tim Horton, who died in a car crash in 1974. Horton played 24 seasons in the National Hockey League, including one season with the Penguins in 1971.

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