The restaurant chain wants to make 1.4 million pounds of pizza dough in a building on Rosemary Road. The Planning Commission approved their plan Oct. 21.
Grotto Pizza plans to convert a warehouse and a smaller building at 122 Rosemary Road, Dover, into a center for dough production, dry storage and food distribution.
The Planning Commission approved their application Monday, Oct. 21 in a 5-1 decision. The commission allowed Grotto Pizza to be exempt from including bicycle docks since the building is not in a major residential area and does not have many employees or visitors.
They were also permitted to get rid of sidewalks on Rosemary Road and between the two buildings, but not those along Lafferty Lane.
The restaurant chain plans to use the one-story, 9,800-square-foot warehouse to make more than one million pounds of dough, which will eventually provide for every Grotto Pizza restaurant in Delaware and Maryland.
This facility will replace two others, one in New Castle and one in Lewes.
The manufacturing is mostly automated and will only require five to eight employees for a five-day workweek, said Jeffrey Gosnear, vice president of Grotto Pizza. Some of the employees from the two other facilities, like the manager in New Castle, will move down to Dover.
“For the other [employees] who are up north or down south, we are going to offer jobs in our restaurants,” Gosnear said. “Grotto Pizza is amazing when it comes to the longevity of our employees. We have some employees who are literally in their 40 to 50 years with Grotto Pizza, which is pretty amazing since we’re a 60-year-old company.”
Grotto Pizza chose Dover for its centrality, Gosnear said. “We feel Dover will be better for us. It helps us expand better, too,” he said.
The limited deliveries to the site will mostly be flour, he said. The dough coming from this facility will be frozen and head for a distribution company in Maryland about two times a week, he said.
The two-acre property includes a 3,000-square-foot one-story building where they plan to store vehicles and kitchen supplies.
The buildings will remain mostly the same with minimal construction, such as adding concrete pads for loading and docking trucks, Tracy Harvey at the Department of Planning and Inspections said.
The commission’s decision follows a review by the Development Advisory Committee Oct. 9.
Grotto Pizza must next submit a final site plan to be approved by the departments of Planning and Inspections and Public Works.
No construction can happen until that final site plan is approved, Harvey said.
“I think we’re going to be good for the community. We are invested in the community as it is now,” Gosnear said, mentioning restaurants in Dover, Camden and Milford.