Local Domino's owners determined to open store on Bainbridge Island

The Gaube family is all ready to set up shop on Bainbridge Island. They have a business loan, they have a store location, they even have equipment on the way.

But one thing they don't have: an OK from city hall.

The Gaubes own three Domino's Pizza stores in Gig Harbor, Port Orchard and Poulsbo. They want to make Bainbridge Island their fourth location, but the city's zoning codes make it difficult for such a business to move into town.

"We are working closely with the city and we are trying to get in there," said Steve Gaube Jr. "It's the to-go containers; that is their problem."

The city's codes are clear, any business that can be classified as a "formula take-out food restaurant" is not allowed near the downtown core of Winslow, and the restriction stretches to the Village Shopping Center where Safeway is located.

A formula take-out restaurant is any business that is contractually required to use standardized menus, ingredients and interior or exterior designs. They also are classified as a business that predominantly uses disposable containers to deliver food or beverages.

Businesses of this type, however, can establish a location east of Highway 305, where a McDonald's is located.

But Domino's has not given up yet on a location on the west side of the highway. The company and the Gaubes are committed to doing anything they can to make their island location compliant with city codes, with the aim to set up shop in the Village Shopping Center.

The result, according to the Gaubes, will be a Domino's unlike any other in the national chain.

"Domino's is giving us the green light to do sit-downs (with the city) and do everything Bainbridge wants us to do," Gaube Jr. said.

He noted how the store will be transformed into more of a sit-down restaurant, rather than strictly a delivery business. Plates and silverware will be used instead of disposable packaging.

Domino's officials have previously said that the location will have a local flair, with a display featuring sports jerseys from island schools and a menu with island-specific items. They've also promised a unique interior design and other amenities.

"I've worked with the company for 13 years and I've never seen them do anything like this," Gaube Jr. said.

Domino's has not had any further contact with the city since its last communication in June. The company is looking into how they can further change the proposed store to meet city codes.

Steve Gaube Sr., however, has been pressing the city for answers on what more the restaurant owners can do to get the city's approval.

In recent correspondence with the city, he's asked why other national chains have been allowed to open in the shopping center west of Highway 305 — the Subway sandwich shop, specifically — while Domino's is being kept out.

"(The) only problem is the city management doesn't want me," Gaube Sr. said in a July 29 email to the city.

The email asked city officials to spell out exactly what the business needs to do to pass muster with city hall.

Gaube Sr. noted that Pizza Factory, also a national chain, was the previous tenant in the same spot where Domino's wants to open a location.

He also pointed to the Subway sandwich shop that is located in the same shopping center, but does not appear to meet the same codes they are being asked to meet.

"The only difference, really, is a fake fireplace," Gaube Sr. said in his email that compared the Bainbridge Subway and Subway restaurants elsewhere.

"The changes we have offered to make in our store will make it a one-of-a-kind for Domino's Pizza. Give me a list of things that you would require of us and let's see what I can do," Gaube Sr. added. "This shopping center now has four vacant spaces, we will bend over backwards to make it work. What can we do?"

If and when Domino's is able to set up a location on the island, Gaube Jr. will come to manage the location.

He is eager to move to Bainbridge to oversee the new location and has even been looking into buying a condo in the area.

Gaube Jr. said he wasn't looking to relocate, but he's changed his mind after visits to the island.

"I would like to move out there," he said. "Living on Bainbridge Island would be awesome."


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