Within 24 hours of Nicola Pizza announcing it will move from Rehoboth Beach north to a new location in Lewes next year, more than 1,200 customers had weighed in on Facebook.
Many expressed grief over losing the Rehoboth location. Most people, though, were overjoyed.
“This is awesome,” said Crystal Timmons-Bryant. “I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with traffic or parking.”
Others said they would follow Nicola anywhere.
“I know where my customers come from,” said Nicholas Caggiano Jr., vice-president of Nicola Pizza.
It’s just time for a change, he said.
After 50 years in Rehoboth the company has put their two locations for sale and plans to move the restaurant to Route 1 in Lewes at the site of the former Wright Mini Storage.
“It was just a no brainer,” said Caggiano. He already owned the property around the mini storage.
The company announced the move on Sunday on the Nicola Facebook page. Nicola, known for its Nic-o-Bolis, will continue operating at its Rehoboth locations while the Lewes location is built. A fall 2021 date is expected for the opening.
“I have nothing against Rehoboth,” said Caggiano.
Originally, he thought the company would keep one of the Rehoboth locations open after building in Lewes, but his father, Nicholas Sr., and manager Kelly Munyan didn’t think that was the best idea.
“Everybody had to be on board,” he said.
Parking and space considerations were two factors in the decision to move. One of Caggiano’s employees told him that he spent $1,000 on parking while working for the last five years for Nicola.
The move will help the company expand its brand, and keep everything under one roof, he said.
Every spring he has local customers tell him they will see him in the fall because they don’t want to fight traffic and have to search for a parking during the summer. Five times this summer he’s met people well before the 11 a.m. opening so they could pick up boxes of Nic-o-Bolis before parking meters started.
Caggiana said he’s already had people call him to talk about holding weekly meetings at the restaurant in Lewes once it opens.
While the announcement is new to the area, the plans have been under way for a while.
The current structures on the nearly two-acre property will be removed to make way for construction. The new building is expected to have 40 seats at the bar, 300 seats inside and another 100 to 125 seats outside for the first phase. The second phase would include a 125-seat banquet space.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Nicola Pizza was founded by Nicholas and Joan Caggiano in 1971. Caggiano Sr. was a school teacher, the son of immigrants, and Joan was a banker.
Soon after opening, Caggiano Sr. invented the Nic-o-Boli, a cross between a stromboli and a calzone. That item and the restaurant has been a staple in the community ever since.
While Caggiano admits it’s risky to give up on a location that has worked since 1971, he believes the new location will be fine.
There will be two hotels within walking distance there. Caggiano is building one that is set to open in the next year. It will have 110 rooms.
As for the Rehoboth properties, they are listed for $4 million for both. Caggiano’s already had prospective buyers contact him.