Updated: Grotto Pizza acquiring Dolle’s boardwalk property

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Grotto Pizza will acquire the former Dolle’s candy property on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk.

The property is at the corner of One 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, stated that he was “excited to be able to acquire this property. Grotto Pizza has not yet developed specific plans for the property. However, Grotto Pizza plans to relocate its north boardwalk restaurant on the corner of Baltimore Avenue, one block south to the corner of Rehoboth Avenue.”

Jeff Gosnear, vice president of Grotto Pizza stated that, “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. 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.

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, DE, 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.

“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. Cheers to a brighter 2021 and thank you for your business!”

Current leases will be honored, and the Dolle’s storefront will be available for lease in the short term.

Grotto has another large location a short distance to the south on the boardwalk.

Dolle’s is moving to a new location to the south of the highly visible store following the sale of the property by a member of the founding family of the small chain.

Still up in the air is the fate of the iconic Dolle’s sign. The Rehoboth landmark sign may move to the new Dolle’s location, subject to city regulations and engineering studies.

The relocation is good news for downtown Rehoboth, which has seen some long-time restaurants including Grotto’s longtime rival Nicola, move to Coastal Highway just outside the beach town.

Parking, more year-around residents living in the area and chain restaurants closing their doors and leaving sites available have been cited as reasons for the relocations.

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