Pizza 'theatre' is now now open

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The new Domino’s Pizza store on Jasper Street in Paris is part of a long-range plan.

Franchise owner Sam Duvall started in Charleston, added Mattoon and now has a new operation in Paris.

“My business plan was to have 10 stores in five years,” said Duvall. “Paris was part of my plan before I built Charleston.”

Duvall, originally from Springfield, Mo., now considers this part of Central Illinois as his home. That sentiment is cemented by the arrival of a baby since moving here, and it is why he likes to state the Paris store is locally owned rather than part of some far-flung enterprise.

He acknowledged Domino’s has not had a stellar track record in Paris. With this being the third attempt to get one established in the city, Duvall emphasized the big difference now is he is not the same franchisee involved with the other efforts.

“He’s no longer with the company,” Duvall said about the previous owner.

Domino’s has been a major influence on Duvall’s life. He started working part-time in 1999, at age 15, in a Domino’s.

“I was the only kid in middle school with a job,” he said. “I grew up poor. If you wanted money, you had to go out and earn it.”

He tried high school athletics for one year as a freshman but after discovering coaches expect a full-time commitment to sports, shucked athletics in favor of employment. He stuck with Domino’s and advanced through the ranks, but after five years as manager tried a career change as a computer programmer. He eventually came back to Domino’s

“I just love the job,” he said. “I went through franchisee training class, then I just started shopping and Charleston is where I landed.”

The new Paris store is different from early Domino’s incarnations. It is known as a pizza theater store. Features include inside seating for 12, free Wi-Fi, a drive through, an open area to view food preparation and the ability to track carryout orders on a lobby screen.

“The pizza theater design is an interactive experience where customers can actually watch and track their pizza being made, each step of the way,” said Duvall.

For Duvall, the secret to making great pizza is people.

“Making pizza is easy, but training people to have a good work attitude – that’s tough,” he said. “Good people make good pizza. People who care about their job, the store and their customers will make a good product.”

As for the craft, he said the biggest challenge is making the dough and getting it spread out correctly to create a good crust.

“It’s more of an art than a science,” said Duvall.

His personal preference is a barbecue chicken pizza he makes for home use, but it is not on the store’s menu. He and his wife eat a Domino’s pepperoni and cheese pizza at least once a week.

The store opened Dec. 28 and local response has exceeded expectations. He said the home delivery side of the business has proved especially hardy and credited that an extended period of cold weather and people not wanting to get out.

“This is a town that is in love with their sandwiches,” said Duvall. “We sell a large amount of sandwiches here.”

He added the Philly cheesesteak and the barbecue chicken ranch are closely tied as the most popular sandwich. It was much harder identifying the biggest selling pizza.

“It’s harder to isolate the pizza. When you have 24 different toppings, people just want to have fun,” said Duvall. “We just excited to be here.’