Domino’s moving out of Liberty Theater building

By Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer November 11, 2010 09:20 am
A landmark business in downtown La Grande is moving to the La Grande Town Center on Island Avenue, and its owner is excited about the possibilities.

For the past 25 years, Domino’s Pizza has done business in the old Liberty Theater building at 1010 Adams Ave. With a local movement to restore and reopen the Liberty gaining momentum, and Domino’s lease about to expire, store owner Jessy Watson figured the time had come for a change.

Moving is a major undertaking, but Watson sees nothing but positives.

“The theater restoration is a neat project. Our lease was coming to an end, and we decided it was time to relocate. This works out best for everybody,” he said.

Watson, who bought the La Grande store in 2005 and also owns Domino’s outlets in Baker City, Hood River, The Dalles and Portland, said the new location solves a couple of ongoing problems for him.

For one thing, parking for customers coming in to pick up orders was limited at the downtown location. Outside the new store, there’s plenty of room for people to swing in.

“We’ll have much more parking and be much more visible,” Watson said.

He said he’s adding curbside service so customers picking up orders won’t even have to get out of their cars.

“We recently started online tracking so people can know exactly when their orders will be ready. They can just pull up in front and we’ll bring the pizza out,” Watson said.

For another thing, Domino’s in downtown has had some challenges picking up the lunch trade. Watson said the location in the La Grande Town Center along busy Island Avenue should help that.

“Everybody comes out this way for lunch and we kind of get forgotten. This will give us a chance to highlight our lunch specials,” he said.

Domino’s is moving into the space vacated by American Family Insurance about a year ago. Some heavy remodeling was in order, but there, too, Watson sees positives.

“The store will have a completely new image, be more vibrant and inviting,” he said.

Though the new store is actually a bit smaller than the old one, a bigger walk-in freezer is being installed. Another added feature is a separate door in the back for use by delivery drivers.

The La Grande Town Center is an older plaza-type shopping center that includes Albertson’s supermarket, Beall’s Department Store, Blue Mountain Sports, Dollar Tree, La Grande Gold and Silver, Ace Hardware, Capelli Hair Salon, and others.

Beall’s, Dollar Tree and Ace Hardware are relatively new additions to the business mix. Also, the local Sears outlet recently moved into a retail space just across Portland Street from the center.

Watson said the Town Center looks to be a better place to do business than before, and that other merchants there have been helpful and supportive as he engineers his move.

He added that he likes it that several of the businesses, including Blue Mountain Sports, La Grande Gold and Silver, Capelli and his own, are locally owned and operated.

“We’re all pretty much small town people,” he said.

 The remodel, being done by Jamie Dornen of Diamond D Builders, began about three weeks ago. Watson said he thinks he will be ready to open at the new location around Thanksgiving.