Coming up on 30 years in Clinton, Domino’s has grown with the times as one of the staples of Jordan Shopping Plaza. This week, the local family-owned and operated business will be celebrating its latest upgrade — an expansion that doubled the space and ushered in an interactive ordering and tracking process, pizza by the slice and sit-down dining.
Deemed “pizza theater,” the makeover has built on Domino’s successful foundation locally, Jordan Plaza developer Billy Ray Jordan said. A tenant of the plaza since November 1988, Domino’s has been owned and operated by franchisee Cindy Byrd since 1992.
With the expansion, 34 sit-down diners can be served, along with the continued take-out and delivery services. There are two entrances at the front, one leading to the pick-up lobby and another going into the dining room, where there are several televisions, as well as free Wi-Fi available to customers. One particular pizza tracker screen, similar to an “arrivals” screen at the airport, shows the name of the customer, their order and the estimated time it will be ready.
Additionally, there is a hot-hold unit for pizza by the slice, as well as a refrigerated open air showcase with salads, drinks and more items that people can buy without having to wait.
“We have more to offer the community now,” Byrd attested.
A ribbon-cutting celebrating the grand reopening and the renovations will be held at 10 a.m. this Thursday, April 7. The event is being coordinated by the plaza in conjunction with the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce.
Jordan said the renovations are a testament to the business’ past success and are an investment in its future.
“Domino’s has been a part of us for 28 years and they’ve been such a good tenant over all those years,” said Michael Lindsay, who co-owns the plaza. “We’re proud of them and glad to see them be successful. We wish them even more success.”
Domino’s saw its Clinton origins at a 1,200 square-feet space within the plaza before moving to its current spot on the corner, just across from First Citizens Bank. While it was just a small jump in size to 1,500 square feet, that corner at 304 Northeast Blvd. gave the pizza place much more visibility.
The recent project doubled the size from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet by expanding into an adjoining space next door. The Jordan Plaza brain trust — Jordan and the Lindsays — said it is a much-deserved expansion for Domino’s and its leader Byrd, who have been loyal to the plaza through the years.
“We’re happy to have them,” said Jordan, who has often called Byrd a “first-class tenant.”
When she started as a Domino’s employee about three decades ago, Byrd recalled how the pizza place offered only medium and large pizzas and two-liter drinks, no sides or anything else. Even when the menu expanded over the years, the space did not. That has now changed.
“It was a little hole in the wall,” Byrd recalled. “Now it’s different. Domino’s is moving in a different direction. We’re not getting away from delivery at all, but we’re focused on dine-in.”
The pizza theater design “allows flexibility for a number of elements otherwise unheard of when it comes to the traditional Domino’s store.” Highlights include a spacious lobby, open-area viewing of the food preparation process and the ability to track carryout orders electronically on a lobby screen. The store also features chalkboards to allow customers to express their creativity or leave feedback for store team members.
Domino’s has actually encouraged current franchises to make the “theater” transition, but Clinton’s is one of few around here that has made the leap. Byrd said she was excited to offer the innovation, and a more open, inviting and immersive experience for its customers.
“You can tell from their expressions when they walk in,” said Byrd of the positive public reaction. “Their mouths drop open like ‘wow this is nice.’ They say, ‘I didn’t know this was here.’”
Customers aren’t the only ones that are impressed.
“There’s a lot of TVs down there,” Jordan remarked. “The menu is on a screen, the pizza is created on a screen and can be tracked on a screen. And it’s really a gorgeous building, clean and neat.”
“I’d say this is very progressive,” Lindsay added.
Originally targeting a June 2015 opening, construction delays pushed that timeline back to early October 2015. The business closed for four days prior to that October opening so final interior work could be completed, but the revamped Domino’s has been open for business ever since.
And now that the pizza joint has been overhauled and has a larger presence in the community, Byrd is seeking to incorporate more outreach so that impact can be felt in a positive way. After all, she is a part of this community and the local Domino’s franchise is very much a family venture.
Byrd’s daughter Ashley and her nephew Tyler Bowen are among the employees at the business, where Terrance Faulkner serves as assistant manager. In all, there are about 25 full and part-time workers, and that number is growing.
Byrd has brainstormed ways in which Domino’s can give back to the community, including a possible partnership with Tim’s Gift Inc. tentatively called “Pizza and a Prayer,” through which two free meals will be provided each week, one to someone who is sick or recovering from an illness, the other as a recognition for a good deed or accomplishment in the community.
Another potential outreach, in the vein of “give a penny, take a penny” would allow a patron to buy a slice for someone who may be less fortunate or hungry. Byrd is still working on the details.
Along with the business’ footprint, the hours have also been expanded.
The restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. until midnight Sunday through Thursday, and until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Dine-in hours will be the same as take-out and delivery. Lindsay said the hours offer a much-needed option locally for late-night dining.
Byrd hopes more people will come by and see what the renovated place has to offer. It’s indeed something to see, she said.
“This is different,” Byrd attested. “There aren’t a lot of Domino’s like this around.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.