LAURINBURG — After more than 25 years in a Holly Square storefront, one of Laurinburg’s chain pizza eateries is relocating to what its proprietors hope will be a slice of paradise.
John Ridge moved to Laurinburg from Florida in 1990 after purchasing the three-store Domino’s Pizza franchise in Laurinburg, Lumberton, and Rockingham.
Since then, Ridge’s business has grown to include stores in St. Pauls, Pembroke, and Raeford — but the Laurinburg restaurant’s move within the next week to the former Scotland Paint Center on U.S. 401 will accommodate even greater changes.
“We were originally a deliver-only company, and now we’ve moved into the carryout market as well,” Ridge said. “That’s the impetus behind making these stores pizza theaters where they’re customer friendly with customer interaction instead of hiding behind a wall and sending stuff out.”
Where the current store provides scant space for customers to wait for their pizza to be prepared, the new restaurant will have seats and tables for 34 — a golden opportunity for those fascinated by the process of kneading and flipping pizza dough, spreading sauce, sprinkling cheese, and applying any variety of toppings.
Enclosed by glass, the assembly area even has a viewing spot specially installed for young pizza enthusiasts. The restaurant will also feature a drive-through window.
“The pizza theater is very exciting because it’s all designed with a very open kitchen,” said Mark Jones, the franchise’s training and marketing manager. “It’s a really interactive place.”
“I’ve probably tried for 10 years to find the right building in Laurinburg to move into,” Ridge added. “We’ve been fortunate with the building that we have; the drive-thru will be great for parents who won’t have to drag their kids out of the car to pick up a pizza.”
The menu of pizza, chicken, pasta, sandwiches, and desserts will remain with no changes, though Ridge recalled that it, too, has evolved over the years to include additional toppings, specialty pizzas, and non-pizza options.
Along with the rest of the pizza industry, Domino’s has moved to offer online ordering — even creating an interactive smartphone application — though most local customers still opt to pick up the phone.
The new store, located on a U.S. 401 service road near Huddle House, Mi Casita, and the office of dentist Ray Chavis, will also soon house corporate offices for the Southeastern Pizza People franchise.
Along with the increased amenities for customers, the new store will offer a sizable work space and walk-in refrigeration area to make life easier for Domino’s employees.
“This will become the largest pizza theater in the Domino’s chain … that is, until somebody opens the next one,” Jones said. “We hope it’s busy enough where we’re running out of space real quick.”
Ridge credited his stores’ success to community support.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I’ve stayed involved in the community and the community has stayed involved with Dominos Pizza, and that’s the way it should be.”
After the move, Domino’s Pizza can still be reached at 910-276-4440.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.