For more than 30 years, Bell’s Pizza stood at 700 Packard St. serving slices to students and residents alike. Now, a Domino’s Pizza will take its place — the only one currently on the University of Michigan’s Central Campus.
The new restaurant will feature bicycle delivery and an entirely new open floor plan with a “pizza theater” where customers can watch their food being made.
David Cesarini, the franchise owner of the new location, also owns three other Ann Arbor locations. He said he hopes to improve the process of getting food to students, and since the new store is within walking distance of campus.
Cesarini said he searched for a few years to find a location for the franchise on Central Campus. Other pizza establishments near that intersection include Pizza Bob’s, Cottage Inn and Happy’s Pizza.
“Finding real estate in Ann Arbor, especially in the city itself, is really difficult,” he said. “This location of course is ideal because it gives me a chance to better service the high concentration of customers that I currently serve in my other two spots.”
LSA sophomore Drew Macleod said he is glad there are more restaurants opening on Central Campus.
“I like that Central Campus is adding new options,” Macleod said. “It will definitely make me weigh other options before getting the classic Quickie Burger or Pizza House.”
Cesarini said once Bell’s Pizza decided not to renew its lease, he was able to work out a deal with the landlord before the property was even listed. He said he hopes to have the store up and running by October, which he added is one of the reasons he thinks he was able acquire the property.
“What I think sold him (the landloard) is the amount of resources and investment we’re going to make in this property,” Cesarini said. “It’s not going to look like anything you see right now.”
The foundation of the building will remain the same, but the roof will be new and glass will be added on the sides of the walls. Cesarini hopes the new design and upgraded technology will make the process of getting pizza easier.
He also plans to streamline the delivery process by delivering food on bikes, which Cesarini said he believes will mean employing more students, many of whom are only able to deliver by bike.
“We want to be cutting edge,” Cesarini said. “We want to find ways to work better with the community. We want to invite our customers to be a part of the process.”
He also noted that the restaurant could serve the University’s philanthropy efforts. Domino’s sponsors clubs such as Dance Marathon and some Greek life organizations.
“I’m very heavily involved with the University and students,” he said. “I think I’ve donated tens of thousands of pizzas over the years. I now basically have a campus headquarters downtown.”
With the addition of the “pizza theater,” Cesarini said the staff wants to make customers feel welcome and a part of the pizza-making process. He expects that this interactive environment, late hours and a mobile application should make Domino’s a simple, fun place for students to eat.
Macleod said normally ordering a pizza on Central Campus can take an hour, and added that he would be open to new ways of ordering if it makes the process faster.
“An app would make ordering a lot more convenient than online or calling,” Macleod said.
Cesarini said he hopes to embrace both technology and student needs as the business approaches its opening.
“Domino’s is on the front edge of technology and interacting with our customers,” Cesarini said. “The University of Michigan embraces technology, so we’re doing the same, and I think it’s a great match of combining what we’re going to offer and what I feel the campus and the students already want and like.”