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Flagship Store Represents the Modern Evolution of the Donatos Brand

Rebecca Wagner Rebecca Wagner Flagship Store Represents the Modern Evolution of the Donatos BrandPhotos by Walker Evans.
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A polished new Donatos opened in the Short North last month, rising from the ashes of its former, next-door self.

Founder Jim Grote opened Donatos 52 years back, at age 19. The redesign is ultimately meant to be an expression of what Grote would’ve opened if the store began in 2016. The chain is honing their focus on local involvement, along with expansion, opening stores in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Construction for the new building began in Spring 2015. The destruction of the old next-door Donatos and construction of the new were done in tandem, as to not lose business. The new, located at 920 North High Street, opened on December 9.

The sleek new design features reclaimed wood, black painted brick, roll-up glass garage doors, and a high, exposed ceiling. The finished restaurant will clock in at just over 2,350 square feet, seating 98. The adjoining new Black Brick Bar will be around 700 feet, not including patio space. The High Street-facing patio will seat an additional 36. Customers will have access to the bar from both the restaurant and the street. The patio will be shaded by an overhead trellis, with a small green space separating the bar from the nearby sidewalk.

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The second phase is still in development. Once the current phase reaches completion, an additional 18 seats will be added with the Black Brick Bar. Black Brick will offer a full bar, featuring local distilleries and craft brewers. Local brews will be rotated on a seasonal basis.

The restaurant hosts live musicians on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 6pm to 8pm. Along with hosting artists on their small dining room stage, Donatos will additionally be selling the featured artist’s CDs and playing their music on the store speakers.

A new Zest juice bar will be next door to Black Brick, with Seattle-based RAM brewpub completing the development. RAM’s second-story patio will overlook the first floor Black Brick Bar patio.

Hot chicken and sriracha jack pizza are now on the expanded original menu, along with five new wing dry rubs and sharable appetizers. Donatos has also moved towards accommodating different dietary restrictions;  a new vegan pizza, and gluten-free crust (the restaurant previously used Boulder-based Udi’s, but has since moved to their own recipe) are now on the menu.

“Pizza’s not a boring business, it’s an exciting one. We want our pizza to express who we are,” said COO Thomas Pendrey.

Donatos has 50 new stores planned to open in the next three year across the Midwest, adding to the 153 franchises they have across six states.

For more information, visit www.donatos.com.

Photos by Walker Evans.

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