Citing lackluster sales due to coronavirus restrictions, coupled with stiff competition from traditional pizzerias getting on the delivery-app bandwagon, EPizza SpA (Domino’s franchise holder in Italy) has closed down all Domino's locations in the country.
As reported by the BBC, the company had been shuttering outlets and limiting deliveries last summer, but by early spring, a decision was made to pull the plug on all 29 locations. When news broke of Domino’s downfall in Italy, it quickly picked up steam on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, with many commentators quipping that the closure should surprise no one.
Still, some thought Domino’s filled a niche, particularly for young Italians, in the vein of McDonald’s and Starbucks. (After initial pushback on their openings in Italy, both the burger and coffee giants found fair success, particularly in tourist areas and near university buildings.)
But perhaps Domino’s bit off a little more than it could chew as it struggled to gain a foothold in the birthplace of pizza. After all, pizza is to Italians what apple pie is to Americans.
Believed to have been introduced to the world by the ancient Greeks, pizza became a working-class staple in southern Italy in the 18th century. But it wasn't until 1889 that it properly burst onto the scene.
According to historical accounts, Queen Margherita of Savoy was traveling through the then-Kingdom of Italy with her husband, King Umberto I, and jonesing for the round, yeasty flatbread. She reportedly summoned Chef Raffaele Esposito to the royal palace to quell her craving, and pizza margherita (tomato sauce and mozzarella) was born. Several centuries later, in 2017, UNESCO inscribed the art of pizza making (pizzaiuolo) in its Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
In a country determined to keep its culinary heritage alive, and where the act of putting pineapple on pizza can border on the criminal, Domino’s departure begs the question, “Can foreign-made pizza ever stand a chance against Italy’s national treasure and bastion of gastronomic pride and joy?” (Your move, Pizza Hut.)