Grotto Pizza has purchased the iconic Dolle’s property at the corner of Rehoboth Avenue and the Boardwalk.
Grotto Pizza currently owns the Boardwalk property north of Dolle’s that stretches to Baltimore Avenue. Dominick Pulieri, Grotto Pizza founder, said in a press release that he was excited to be able to acquire this property.
“Grotto Pizza has not yet developed specific plans for the property,” he said.
However, he said he plans to relocate the North Boardwalk restaurant one block south to the corner of Rehoboth Avenue.
“Looking through the lens of Grotto Pizza commercial development and expansion, we felt this once-in-a-lifetime real estate opportunity was extremely important to the organization,” said Jeff Gosnear, vice president of Grotto Pizza. “The Dolle’s building is truly one of the most desirable properties in Delmarva, and our team is looking forward to reconfiguring and outfitting the space to include a brand-new Grotto Pizza.”
Grotto Pizza recently celebrated its 60th year in business and is set to open a 23rd location in Millsboro this spring.
Dominick Pulieri first started making pizzas with his brother-in-law, Joseph Paglianite, at his pizza restaurant in Harvey’s Lake, Pa. Looking for a way to fund his college tuition, Pulieri ventured to Rehoboth Beach in 1960 to open a pizza restaurant with his sister, Mary Jean, and his brother-in-law Joe – which became Grotto Pizza. In 1963, Grotto Pizza opened a second location along the Boardwalk, but remained a seasonal operation as Pulieri taught school in Smyrna during the year. Pulieri opened Grotto Pizza as a year-round restaurant in 1974 to meet the growing demands of his guests.
“We’re thankful for the opportunity to relocate our business to a location that’s so memorable to all who live, visit or work in Rehoboth Beach,” said Pulieri. “Tradition, hospitality and community are the core ingredients of the Grotto experience and we’re thankful to all who continually invite us to join in their dining traditions.”
Current leases will be honored, and the Dolle’s storefront will be available for lease in the short term.
Dolle’s Candyland closed its doors Jan. 31 as the lease on the property expired. In business for 94 years, Dolle’s will move 100 feet to the west and become part of Ibach’s Candy by the Sea. A new manufacturing facility is planned to be constructed along Route 1 north of Lewes.
The fate of the large Dolle’s sign atop the building is unknown. Owner Tom Ibach said if the sign is moved – possibly to the new location – a structural engineering analysis must be completed and Rehoboth officials would have to approve a variance.
Dolle’s opened its landmark store in 1927. The famous sign was placed atop the building when it was rebuilt following extensive damage from the Storm of ‘62.