Domino's to open Hanover franchise

by Mika Jehoon Lee | 2/15/18 2:05am

by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Staff

A new Domino’s Pizza restaurant will open in Hanover on 73 South Main Street, behind the Irving Gas station. The site will undergo a renovation once the town of Hanover issues a building permit, according to Keith Bell, who owns Domino’s franchises in Claremont, West Lebanon, Montpelier, Vermont and St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Bell said he started considering opening a new Domino’s in Hanover shortly after he opened the franchise in West Lebanon in August 2016. After its opening, the West Lebanon location became overwhelmed with sales coming from Hanover, because Bell had underestimated the high volume of pizza orders from Dartmouth students. Pizza orders from Dartmouth students have comprised nearly 30 percent of all sales and the vast majority of late-night sales, Bell said.

However, Bell said he had decided to wait an year before opening the franchise in Hanover.

“We knew it would be smart to go through all of the seasons, including the summer term and the winter break when only some students are here,” Bell said. “We wanted to make sure that [Domino’s in West Lebanon] could survive without Dartmouth students.”

According to Bell, the franchise in West Lebanon did well enough financially in the absence of Dartmouth students to convince him to open a new store in Hanover.

Hanover director of planning, zoning and codes Robert Houseman said for Domino’s to open in Hanover, it needs to obtain two permits from the town of Hanover: a zoning permit and a building permit.

A zoning permit ensures that the planned development is consistent with the town’s zoning ordinance, which specifies how properties and land can be used in certain zoning districts, Houseman said.

Since Domino’s was not proposing any alterations to the structural footprint of the site it plans to renovate, its zoning review was “straightforward,” he said. The town approved a zoning permit for Domino’s on Jan. 18, declaring that the building in 73 South Main Street was suitable for use as a Domino’s franchise.

A building permit is approved based on the planned development’s compliance with two codes: the life-safety code and the building code, Houseman said. He added that both codes address means of egress, the need for a restroom and the adequacy of the kitchen, including exhaust vents and other devices. Since Domino’s will have pizza oven facilities, there will need to be a hood exhaust that is discharged out of the roof, he said.

According to Houseman, Bell’s agent has applied for the building permit, but the town has not approved it yet.

“We are speaking with the agent, who is a licensed architect,” Houseman said. “[Bell and the agent] were requested to provide updated information related to roof-mounted improvements.”

According to Bell, construction typically takes six to eight weeks after the building permit is issued. Neither Bell nor Houseman gave a date as to when the building permit will most likely be approved.

Bell said the franchise in Hanover will be a little under 1,100 square feet, less than half the size of the 2,300 square foot West Lebanon store.

The Hanover store will be smaller for two main reasons, according to Bell.

“[Hanover] real estate prices are pretty expensive — we honestly wouldn’t be able to afford a 2,300 square foot unit,” he said. “And students usually order deliveries — we certainly have a pick-up counter, but there will be no space for dine-ins.”

Lisa Seo ’18, who orders deliveries from Domino’s at least three times a term, said she is looking forward to the new Domino’s restaurant in Hanover because the increased proximity of Domino’s to the school campus could significantly reduce delivery time.

“If you order late at night, it usually takes a minimum of an hour for the food to come,” Seo said. “When I ordered at 2 a.m., my food sometimes arrived at 3:30 a.m.”

Bell said the Domino’s franchise in West Lebanon has delivered in under 30 minutes in 80 percent of its deliveries. When Domino’s opens in Hanover, Bell said his goal is to deliver pizzas in under 20 minutes 80 to 90 percent of the time and in under 30 minutes 95 percent of the time.

“[At Domino’s in West Lebanon], a driver will leave with three deliveries at a time, and because each round trip takes around 30 minutes, a driver will make about four to six deliveries per hour,” Bell said. “[In Hanover], the round trip will only take 10 to 15 minutes, so drivers should make eight to 10 deliveries per hour — the productivity of the drivers will go up.”

Deborah Rheem ’19 said with the arrival of Domino’s in Hanover, she now anticipates more competition between local pizza restaurants.

“More people will order from Domino’s, so I think this will create more competition with local pizzerias like Ramunto’s [Brick and Brew] and C&A [Pizza],” she said.

Tim Cullen, the owner of Ramunto’s, said that he wishes good luck to the new Domino’s Pizza, noting that the two restaurants make different styles of pizza.

Bell said he is aware of the notion that Domino’s in West Lebanon is like a “big, evil corporate giant,” but believes this impression is untrue because the Domino’s franchises he owns are locally-owned operators.

“All of our construction guys are local guys we hire, all of our team members are local people and I am semi-local myself, living 40 minutes away,” Bell said. “We are Domino’s, but we are still local people that are in town.”