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Operations Leader Shares Journey from SONIC Carhop to Dunkin’ Regional Director

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By Jessica Shock

Kanda Martin is a Regional Director of Operations for Bluemont Group, a Dunkin’ franchisee that owns and operates more than 80 restaurants across Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, and Tennessee. In her current role, Kanda oversees restaurants in Knoxville and Chattanooga, but her restaurant industry journey began back in her hometown of Madisonville, Tennessee at another Inspire brand: SONIC.

“It was such a cool introduction to the world of work,” recalls Kanda, thinking back to her first job as a SONIC carhop. “I got to show off on roller skates while learning about restaurants and guest service.” Kanda continued to work at the Madisonville SONIC after high school, earning promotions that grew her from carhop to Assistant Manager over the next nine years.

“At that point, I was looking for a new chapter in my career,” says Kanda. “I started working at a loan company, but didn’t enjoy the work.” It wasn’t long before she began looking for a food and beverage role again, and a friend recommended Bluemont Group. With strong restaurant experience, Kanda quickly secured an interview at a nearby Dunkin’.

Bluemont Group President Dave Baumgartner and Kanda Martin

“Can you believe I had never set foot in a Dunkin’ before then?” laughs Kanda. “Growing up, we didn’t have any close by, so Dunkin’ was a new brand to me. I was excited about the possibilities.” Bluemont’s President Dave Baumgartner personally interviewed Kanda, offering her an Assistant Manager role on the spot. “Dave saw something in me, and I saw an opportunity to join a people-first company.”

Working under a new brand brought new opportunities, including new ways to give back. “At a difficult point in my childhood, I received a backpack filled with school supplies. It made a big difference; I still remember it,” says Kanda. Through the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation, Kanda was able to volunteer to help local children in need. “It was a full circle moment and made me so grateful for the direction my career has taken.”

The Bluemont Group’s Field Operations Team

Kanda was quickly promoted within Bluemont Group to General Manager. As the business expanded and new restaurants opened, she was motivated to continue developing her skills and stepped into a new role as Training Manager. A few years later, Kanda earned a promotion to District Manager with six restaurants reporting to her. “I put everything into that role,” says Kanda. “And it showed – I was honored as District Manager of the year in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.

In 2022, Kanda was promoted to Regional Director of Operations, now overseeing 40 restaurants. “From that first conversation with Dave, I knew this place was special. I was able to develop into my current role through leadership’s commitment and investment in me.”

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