The 16,000 square foot, $3 million Grotto Pizza under construction at the former Atlantic Books site off U.S. Route 13 will include a spacious dining room, a sports bar with 10-foot projection HDTVs and dozens of other televisions, an outdoor patio, private dining room and a game room.
It is on schedule for an early April or late May opening, company officials in Rehoboth Beach said.
"This location is perfect for our restaurant, which fronts Dover Downs Casino," Grotto Pizza owner Dominick Pulieri said. "I know most of our teammates (employees) and those close to Grotto Pizza will be thrilled about this great location in our state's capital."
Pulieri first opened Grotto Pizza in Rehoboth Beach in 1960 and the pizza shop quickly became a crowded destination point at Delaware's beach resort area. Since then, Pulieri had expanded the renown Grotto's in several locations in Sussex and New Castle counties.
This is Grotto Pizza's 21st store overall, 17th in Delaware and the first in Kent County aside from a small location that was on Dover Air Force Base and has since closed, marketing director Vinnie DiNatale said. In addition, Grotto Pizza has regularly come up to set up as a vendor at Dover International Speedway during race weekend, he said.
Pulieri had been searching for Dover location to place his famous pizza shop for the last 20 years and things finally came together last summer when the company struck a deal to place a restaurant adjacent to Dover Downs, DiNatale said. Contractors broke ground in October on the property owned by Silicato Development.
Davis, Bowen and Friedel are the architect and engineer, and Warfel is the general contractor, Dover Director of Planning & Community Development Ann Marie Townshend said. The Grotto Pizza in Dover was an administratively approved project since it consisted primarily of interior and exterior building renovations and some minor site improvements, Townshend said. No rezoning was required, she said.
Pulieri said the Dover store would have aspects from other Grotto locations that customers had grown accustomed to.
Vice President of Grotto Pizza Jeff Gosnear added that the state capital and the Kent County seat offered a lot of promise from a business perspective.
"There are colleges, an Air Force Base, state government offices, Dover Downs and much, much more that makes Dover such an attractive location for Grotto Pizza," he said. "This location will finally bridge the gap from our resort locations in Southern Delaware and our New Castle County locations."
In all, it was a great project for the city of Dover, Townshend said.
"Many people have been wanting a Grotto's here for a long time," she said. "This is a benefit to the community as it gives another option for restaurants, it fills a vacant building on the highway and it also provides employment opportunities."
Page 2 of 2 - The opening will have created more than 90 full- and part-time restaurant positions, company officials said. Once the restaurant opens in early May or possibly late April, it will be open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. seven days a week.