Domino's Pizza Closes its Restaurants in Italy, Surprising No One

Operations at all locations were suspended in late July.

Domino's Pizza scooter in Milan, Italy
Photo: Eyesonmilan / Shutterstock

It's probably safe to say that Italians aren't exactly mourning the loss of Domino's pizza — and there's a good chance that a lot of them didn't notice that the Michigan-based chain even existed in their country. According to Italy's Food Service magazine, ePizza SpA, the Domino's Italian franchise operator, filed for bankruptcy in April and suspended operations at all of its locations in late July.

In its bankruptcy filing, ePizza basically said that COVID-19, government restrictions associated with the pandemic, and the popularity of other food delivery services made it financially impossible for its Domino's locations to continue doing business. And that last point was a big one: when Domino's opened in Italy years ago, its home delivery was a way for it to differentiate itself from local pizzerias. In the months since the pandemic, the increased popularity of and reliance on companies like Just Eat and Deliveroo have made Domino's delivery seem less novel — and less necessary.

"We attribute the issue to the significantly increased level of competition in the food delivery market with both organized chains and 'mom & pop' restaurants delivering food, to service and restaurants reopening post pandemic and consumers out and about with revenge spending," ePizza wrote in its fourth-quarter 2021 report to investors.

Domino's opened its first stores in the Italian market in 2015 and had big dreams of expanding to 880 restaurants by 2030. Instead, Domino's and a sub-franchise partner had fewer than 30 stores combined — and all of them stopped serving pies in July. 'Goodbye to Hawaiian pizza, pepperoni, pineapple, and cheese-stuffed crust,' Milano Today wrote . 'Domino's Pizza, which you loved or hated, can no longer be eaten.'

The first Italian Domino's opened its doors and fired up its ovens in Milan on October 5, 2015. Then 36-year-old Alessandro Lazzaroni, the master franchisee for Domino's Italy, said that the quality of both the products and the service would be the reason why the restaurants would succeed. 'We've created our own recipe [...] with Italian products, like 100 percent tomato sauce and mozzarella, and products like Prosciutto di Parma, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano, and Mozzarella di bufala Campana, products that we purchase from carefully selected Italian suppliers,' he said at the time.

And yeah, Italians seem unsurprisingly unbothered by Domino's closure. "There was no point in opening it...we were talking about it just this morning," one Bologna resident told Reuters. "It didn't make sense. Maybe an American pizza chain would have made sense for tourists, but for an Italian, it doesn't make sense. It's like me going to England and making fish and chips, it doesn't make sense."

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