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News Retailing And Restaurants Statewide Sussex County

Grotto Pizza promotes Gosnear to president, names new No. 2

Katie Tabeling
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Grotto Pizza President Jeff Gosnear | PHOTO COURTESY OF GROTTO PIZZA

REHOBOTH BEACH — Grotto Pizza, a Delaware restaurant institution that has grown to more than 20 locations in Delaware and Maryland, has changed up its top leadership team.

Jeff Gosnear, executive vice president of Grotto Pizza, has been promoted to president. Adam Webster, the director of operations, has been elevated to vice president. Both will oversee the restaurant chain that employs around 1,700 people throughout both states, as well as future development plans.

In Grotto Pizza’s 63-year history, the only person to hold the title president was founder and CEO Dominick Pulieri.

“Several years ago, we decided, since [Dominick] wasn’t going to be around forever, that most of the daily business of running the company would be transferred to me. We also recognized a need for one of the operations directors to lead the group and asked Adam Webster to take on that additional responsibility,” Gosnear told the Delaware Business Times.

Grotto Pizza developed this succession plan years ago, as Pulieri is now 81 years old. Both Gosnear and Webster have spent years building their careers with the brand and held key leadership positions. In fact, Gosnear has handled much of the daily business since he was named executive vice president in 2015.

Pulieri will remain as CEO of the company that he founded in 1960 with his sister, Mary Jean, and her husband, Joseph Paglianite.

Under his leadership, Gosnear opened a central commissary kitchen in Dover as well as seven new Delaware locations and four restaurants in Maryland. 

Gosnear started his career in hospitality by working at the Lamberti Restaurant in his native southern New Jersey while he was in high school. After graduating from Drexel University, he worked at that same restaurant as its finance and operation director. Under his watch, the company that managed the Lamberti Restaurant opened 14 additional stores.

Over time, he eventually opened his own consulting business and worked with Grotto Pizza, ultimately leaving his business to serve as Grotto’s chief financial officer. He served in that role for three years.

Gosnear eventually left Grotto, but came back in 2009 to serve as vice president. In that role, he worked closely with Pulieri to grow the chain beyond the Delaware beach and throughout the region. Today, Grotto Pizza has 23 locations in the area, and a

Grotto Pizza Vice President Adam Webster | PHOTO COURTESY OF GROTTO PIZZA

distribution facility in Dover that can produce 1.4 million pounds of pizza dough in a year and ship it to restaurants from Rehoboth to Colombia, Md.

For Gosnear, the promotions just formalize what he and Webster have been doing at work for years.

“This just makes the change ‘official’ for the company, he said.

Webster is also a longtime Grotto Pizza employee, starting out when he was in high school in 1987. From there, he worked his way up into management positions. Webster holds a business management degree from Wilmington University.

In his time at the restaurant group, Webster also served on its executive management committee and was key to restructuring the company’s operational protocols.

“I’m proud to be a part of such an iconic company,” Webster said in a statement. “Community, family and passion are at the heart of Grotto Pizza. Working with so many talented people over the last 35-plus years has been a privilege. I’m certainly excited to contribute to the future growth of our Delaware-based company.” 

Looking at the future, Gosnear will focus more on staff development and retention as well as expanding the restaurant in other markets. He will also focus on projects for the restaurants and non-restaurant assets. Grotto Pizza is also working on developing a new hotel at the former iconic Dolle’s Candyland block, scheduled for a spring 2025 opening.

Webster’s main task will be to maintain the current level of operations and ensure proper staffing, efficient workflows and a great guest experience.

“He has a great team of directors to help him achieve success and I am confident it will continue under his new leadership role,” Gosnear added.

 

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