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The Elm City has no shortage of local pizzerias. But New Haven is appealing to a national chain for extra dough to help fill potholes.

Domino’s Pizza, the world’s largest pizza seller, launched its nationwide “Paving for Pizza” campaign early this summer. The program offers grants to communities to repair potholes. Domino’s has cheekily billed the campaign as an attempt to protect its customers’ pizza from the damage potentially inflicted by poor road conditions during delivery. Last month, the New Haven City Plan Commission recommended that the Board of Alders approve the submission of an application for funding to Domino’s, which could bring in $5,000 for road repairs in the coming months.

“As New Haven is the unrivaled pizza capital of the United States, the Commission is compelled to highlight our national significance, quality, and innovation,” the City Plan Commission said in an advisory report recommending its approval. “Domino’s has been able to thrive in our highly-competitive marketplace, which is a testament to the quality of their products and longstanding base of support.”

The pizza chain’s campaign transfers money directly from Domino’s to various municipalities, which use the funds to pay workers to fix roads. Paving for Pizza currently has a standalone website on which individuals can nominate their cities as potential recipient of the grants.

New Haven’s Community Services Administration, a city department that addresses a range of issues involving health and social well-being in the city, has requested permission from the Board of Alders to apply for a $5,000 grant, the amount disbursed in previous Paving for Pizza collaborations in cities such as Burbank, California.

The project would be a joint venture between City Hall and the students of Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, a Downtown magnet school one block from the New Haven Green on College Street. The plans submitted in the application propose that all repairs should be conducted over the course of a single day sometime this fall, with Domino’s providing additional funding for food and beverages for students and residents to celebrate the initiative.

Domino’s will benefit from the marketing opportunities of each partnership; trucks that have paved roads in completed communities have often been painted with the campaign’s promotional messages. In the past, the company has also provided stencils for cities to paint logos on streets that have been repaired, although such an arrangement is not part of the proposed New Haven partnership. The contract stipulates that money must be used solely to repair roads and that the city will inform Domino’s of the number of potholes filled.

New Haven’s Domino’s outpost, on Whalley Avenue, faces some stiff competition. Longtime local favorites like Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and Sally’s Apizza, which reopened last spring under new leadership, have co-existed for 80 years on Wooster Street, and the city is speckled with other mom and pop style pizza joints.

“I don’t think Domino’s is really competitive against a lot of other New Haven pizza places,” Mia Jackson ’21 said. “The quality is very different.”

Colin Caplan, who runs an annual Apizza Feast in New Haven, said he appreciates Domino’s repairs efforts but stressed that local pizzerias have also made contributions to the community, often without fanfare.

“It’s a good cause,” Caplan said. “It’s a very small fund for a much bigger project. We have a lot of potholes. … It’s a funny gimmick, but it’s also probably a reasonable advertising gig.”

Because of its size and resources, Caplan explained, Domino’s can undertake campaigns on a different scale that local businesses can. Still, New Haven’s local pizzerias often contribute “hundreds of pizzas” to varying community events, he said.

Domino’s New Haven outpost is located at 357 Whalley Ave.

Angela Xiao |