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DRACUT — On the morning of Sept. 24, well before the doors opened at 5 a.m., Gildas Bettencourt announced to his staff that it was “time to make the doughnuts.”

The town’s newest coffee shop has officially opened for business, a day behind schedule, but motorists on their way to work were happy nonetheless.

“This is awesome,” said Dracut resident Karen Crowley. “It’s right on my way to work. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

So has Bettencourt, who was in a battle with the town since 2002 when the project at 177 Broadway Road was first denied on the basis that it would increase traffic at the busy intersection.

“We are just very happy it all worked out,” said Bettencourt, standing behind the gleaming counter and in front of shelves of fresh doughnuts and pastry.

While Bettencourt’s son, Fabio, helped staff member Caitlin Racette figure out the drive-through system, co-workers Dona Martel and Jerry Perez waited on customers, sending them off with a cheery “Have a nice day.”

One customer could be heard on her cell phone; “Yeah, they’re open. Yeah, I’m standing inside the store right now. They’re open.”

In the back room, employee Sarah Moynihan sprinkled sesame seeds on a large backing sheet full of bagels.

“It’s beautiful here,” she said, placing a tray of sprinkled chocolate frosted donuts on a rack. “Everything is brand new. I love it.”

There was a time — several actually — when it seemed the project would never move from the designer’s blueprint. Bettencourt filed a lawsuit after the project was denied in 2002. The case languished in the courts until he revised his plan in April 2005. The new proposal included $300,000 worth of traffic improvements at the busy intersection with Fox Avenue.

But the legal wrangling is all behind him and Bettencourt is just happy to be “making the doughnuts.”

“It will be very busy here,” he said. “Just like the other stores.”