When customers pull up to the drive-through at the new Gator Domino’s on Archer Road next month, they won’t find a microphone.
But they won’t need one.
All they will need is a digital device – and to order their food in advance to pick up at the window. That’s because the new store will be all digital, and workers will no longer take orders at the drive-through.
If their food isn’t ready on time, the store also has a digital solution: Customers are invited to wait inside their cars in a designated area and track the status of their order on a large screen outside.
The digital drive-through is one of a number of features that the owner of Gator Domino’s, Freddie Wehbe, says makes it the first of its kind.
Besides the digital drive-through, the store will also feature dine-in seating, free Wi-Fi and charging stations, and a “pizza theater” where customers can watch their food being made.
“The initial concept, the theater concept, was born by our corporate team about a year ago,” said Wehbe, who has been in business in Gainesville for 25 years and who recently hosted a tour of the refurbished operation.
“We decided to take it to the next level and add some new things and now, it’s the first Domino’s in the world out of 12,000 locations to be all digital.”
When he says all digital, Wehbe means that all orders are completed on any of 12 different devices. Customers can increase the speed of their orders by ordering in advance via phone, iPad, smart watch, text message, tweet or mobile app.
Those who want to come in to order, can order from an iPad at the front of the store, he said. To use any of the digital methods, customers have to set up a profile beforehand. To set up the profile, customers enter their name, address and credit card information.
“We will take orders up front, but we’re going to try to prevent it,” he said. “Ordering digital takes less than 10 seconds.”
Wehbe said going digital makes sense.
Some 80 percent of orders to student areas now are coming through a digital device, he said. Through texting and tweeting, customers with a profile can simply send a pizza emoji to Domino’s, and the order will be received.
Geo Crume, supervisor, said digital drive-thru will be great for parents or for when it is raining.
“I know my wife on her way home would do the drive thru,” Crume, who has worked for Gator Domino’s for a year, said.
“When the kids are in the back you don’t want to have to lug them out of the car. So now we hand you a pizza and off you go. You can even order before you leave work, so it’s pretty cool.”
Outside the restaurant, there will be 40 seats and a picnic area, and inside, there will are 44 seats and a “pizza theater” lined with seats so customers can watch the chefs prepare their food.
Each seat comes equipped with USB ports, charging stations and a view of the multiple flat-screen televisions in the restaurant. Wehbe said he hopes the restaurant becomes a popular game day spot.
“We’re the official pizza of the Gators, so we’re gonna play all the games here,” he said. “If you have children and you want to come watch the game, I think it would be a good destination for you.”
There is an additional room inside that can be reserved for private meetings or study groups for free, or for birthday parties. To rent the room, customers simply call ahead.
“On the weekends when we do the birthdays, we’re going to allow the kids to come and make their own pizza,” he said. “We’ll give them a t-shirt and a chef hat. They have their own apron, they make their own pizza and enjoy the birthday in here.”
Wehbe said all the changes were for the consumers. He conducted focus groups with about 1,000 people and followed comments on social media to find out what changes were important.
“We listened, and we feel like there’s something for everyone at this store,” he said. “We think it’s the future, and we’re staying a step ahead.”
Professor Richard Lutz, an expert in consumer behavior, said consumers now move toward fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle.
“Basically, speed becomes one of the primary assets,” Lutz said. “So people are sacrificing taste and quality over speed of service at some level.”
He said Domino’s has been a leader in the digital area, something that more companies have recently gotten involved with.
“Obviously, mobile-friendly websites is one thing they’re adjusting to,” he said. “Anything moving in the digital direction is the way younger people are moving.”
Wehbe said consumers also asked for a restaurant that was environment-friendly. All of the equipment is energy-efficient, the paint is sustainable, the hand driers are automatic, the lights are on timers, and they recycle.
He said he even saved a 100-year-old tree outside the restaurant from being demolished and has instead turned it into a picnic area with Wi-Fi for customers.
“We’ve got little signs everywhere reminding people to only take what they need,” Crume said. “It’s a lot of things that a lot of people don’t take the time to do that are going to make a difference.”
The restaurant will be open seven days a
week from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.
“The store is going to be awesome,” Crume said. “Hopefully it’s going to be a cool place for people to come and get pizza and hang out. We expect it to hopefully be one of the busiest and best Domino’s in the country.”