ROME — It seems that Italians don’t essentially like pineapple on their pizza, in spite of everything. Or at the least not sufficient to maintain almost three dozen Domino’s Pizza franchises afloat.
Last month, the Italian retailers of the American pizza conglomerate extinguished their pizza ovens, unable to win over choosy palates within the place the place pizza was invented.
Though the corporate’s Italian web site remained dwell, retailers in Turin, Parma, Rome and elsewhere supplied the identical discouraging message: “Sun. to Sat. CLOSED.” Domino’s international map was extra up-to-date. It listed 90 worldwide markets, however Italy was not amongst them.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday and court docket paperwork present that Domino’s Italian franchise had “sought protection from creditors” earlier this 12 months “after running out of cash and falling behind on its debt obligations.”
Bloomberg mentioned the corporate had 10.6 million euros ($10.8 million) of debt on the finish of 2020.
The closure ended an formidable enterprise enterprise that had aimed to tantalize Italians trying to attempt one thing new, like cheeseburger pizza or BBQ rooster pizza.
Domino’s Pizza Italia opened its first outlet in Milan in 2015, by way of a franchising settlement with a neighborhood firm, ePizza.
In a authorized submitting in Milan in April, attorneys for ePizza mentioned that the corporate had been optimistic about coming into the Italian market in 2015, “the second largest market in the world” of pizza eaters, after the United States. At the time, too, Italy didn’t have a structured, giant scale, house supply mannequin just like the Domino’s Pizza mannequin.
Just two years in the past, media reports relayed the Italian firm’s plans to open 850 shops over the subsequent decade, with the intention of claiming a 2 p.c stake of the nationwide pizza market.
By 2021, 34 eating places bore the Domino’s model. And a consultant for Domino’s Pizza Italia had cheered the opening of the fifth restaurant in Rome, suggesting that Italians had been open to American-style pizza. There had been Italians “who are not afraid of putting pineapple on a pizza,” the consultant had mentioned.
But the coronavirus pandemic modified the whole lot.
With eating places and bars closed for lengthy stretches of time throughout sundry lockdowns, many started to undertake the takeout and residential supply mannequin that Domino’s pizza had sought to dominate Italy with. The proliferation of meals supply platforms like Deliveroo, Glovo or Just Eat “have notably increased the competition” for ePizza, in keeping with the April authorized submitting in Milan.
Representatives for ePizza and Domino’s Pizza within the United States and in Italy didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.
Other culinary ventures that naysayers mentioned had been doomed to fail in Italy have finished fairly effectively. When Starbucks opened its first Italian venue in 2018, many mentioned that Italians accustomed to thimble-sized espressos would snub the corporate’s maxi sizes, and its costs. But Percassi, the Italian licensee for the American firm, has since opened 18 shops all through northern and central Italy, together with a drive by way of.
Alessandro Lazzaroni, for 5 years the chief govt of Domino’s Pizza Italia, left the corporate in December 2020 and is now chief govt of Crazy Pizza, a high-end pizzeria began by the Italian businessman Flavio Briatore, a former director of the Benetton and Renault Formula One racing groups. Crazy Pizza made headlines in Italy this summer time after Neapolitan pizza makers complained that the pizzas had been too costly.
And in spite of everything, Italians are choosy about their pizza.
Stefano Auricchio, the director normal of an association that protects “real Neapolitan pizza” mentioned he was sorry to listen to that Domino’s Pizza had closed “because it impoverishes the market in general,” as households have fewer choices to select from.
That mentioned, he thought that in recent times Italians had advanced their palate for pizza and had been searching for extra “artisanal products” over chain manufacturers. “There is a tendency now to recognize the work of the chef” and the standard of the merchandise, he mentioned.
According to a examine lately commissioned by the affiliation, Neapolitan pizza evoked ideas of “quality, well being and family,” notions that enormous pizza chains “with their standardized products” struggled to match.
“Neapolitan pizza is the mother of all pizza, even Italian pizza,” he mentioned. “It all started here.”
But meals does go on. One former Domino’s Pizza website on a busy Rome road was closed on Tuesday. But an enormous signal had been painted on the roll up door asserting the opening of a restaurant promoting piadina, a flat unleavened bread, griddled and full of varied components, that’s standard in central Italy: “Coming Soon. Gino Piada.”