REHOBOTH BEACH — After 50 yearsNicola Pizza is leaving its storefront just steps away from the Rehoboth boardwalk and relocating to Ocean One Plaza in Lewes, consolidating the iconic pizza restaurant with founder Nick Caggiano’s other ventures along Route 1.
[caption id="attachment_163949" align="alignleft" width="300"] Nick Caggiano, left.[/caption]
At Ocean One Plaza, Caggiano opened a 110-room Home2Suites by Hilton and also runs fitness centers Dimitra Yoga and The Max Challenge and a PNC Bank. As the family business continues to grow, Caggiano said it’s a great opportunity to expand his office space.“We’re a little cramped where we are now, and this would really give us a chance to spread our wings,” Caggiano said. “We had a great opportunity on two acres of land in Lewes, and we took it. It’s also a chance to get our product out to a broader base, being right on the highway, and there’s better parking availability.”Nicola Pizza plans on closing both restaurants on North First Street and Rehoboth Avenue and reopening them in one location in fall 2021. The restaurant hires up to 90 staff in the summer and maintains 35 full-time staff in the winter months, but Caggiano said he feels there is opportunity to hire additional staff in the future.Leaving Rehoboth Beach will be bittersweet, as Caggiano and his wife Joan first opened Nicola Pizza on 8 N. First St. on June 11, 1971. Before that, Caggiano sold pizzas to pay for their daughter’s medical bills. He and his wife Joan borrowed $5,000 from a relative to open the business.“Back then, there was cornfield and cows along the highway and everyone wanted to be in downtown Rehoboth Beach because that’s where everyone was,” Caggiano said. “No one was open in the winter time except us, because I was a substitute teacher at the time, so I could keep up with it.”On opening day, Nicola Pizza sold 77 pizzas. But each year, Caggiano said it “got a little better” and eventually added a second location facing Rehoboth Beach Avenue. Now it’s a 200-seat restaurant. In 2010, Nicola Pizza opened a second location on Rehoboth Avenue.Now, Nicola Pizza ships pizzas and Nic-o-Bolis as far as Puerto Rico and Hawaii. People will wait an hour and a half to get inside under the seating restrictions the state enacted due to COVID-19.“Downtown Rehoboth has been great to me, and I’ll cry some tears once we move,” he said. “But we will be right up the street. We need to have the parking, because we have lost some customers because of it.”From a quality control standpoint, Caggiano said that consolidating the two locations into one restaurant in Lewes would maintain the high standards set for each pie that comes out of the kitchen.“There’s always some jeopardy about making sure it’s the best of the best. Everything is homemade, from the bread to the meatballs,” he said. “I’m a fanatic about food, and I’ve had a lot of good pizza, and we need to keep it that way.”-Katie Tabelingktabeling@delawarebusinesstimes.com