The turnout at the Jamaica Pond Association’s (JPA) board meeting on Aug. 3 concerning Youssef Abour-jalli’s request to open a Domino’s Pizza franchise at 461-467 Centre St., was impressive, and we are pleased that the JPA board voted to oppose the application. We want to voice our reason for opposing Domino’s, which was not a reason shared at the meeting.
It seems clear that the presence of a Domino’s Pizza store next to CVS would pose a real threat to the financial success of Zesto’s Pizza, directly across the street, and to Ideal Pizza, less than a block away. Both of these are small businesses whose owners show commitment to our community in a way that Mr. Abour-jalli is unlikely to do.
We have solicited pizza donations on behalf of the Curley School and JP Trees on numerous occasions, and both of these businesses always come through. The owners are generous and easy to find. When parents have tried to obtain donations for the Curley School from CVS, we have gotten nowhere. There is no person in the store, ever, who can make such a decision. Perhaps they exist in Woonsocket, RI, but we have yet to find them. They clearly don’t care about the tree out front, the garbage all over, or the school next door. It sounds like the Domino’s franchise would be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
More importantly, perhaps, the owners of Ideal and Zesto’s know their regular customers and make personal connections. This is most apparent to us when we walk home from the Curley School to Hyde Square with our children. Our daughters get a warm greeting from George at Zesto’s, and our older child takes pride in the card that sits on his counter, which she made to show appreciation for the pizzas he generously donated to her school auction.
As we consider at what age we will let our daughters walk home alone from school, the small business own-ers play an important role. Along our route, we think about George at Zesto’s, David at Rhythm and Muse, Nobel at El Oriental de Cuba and Jorge and Mayra at La Pupusa Guanaca. These shop owners know our girls, and we know that the kids could count on any of these people for help on the way home if they should ever need it. It is hard to imagine that there would ever be anyone who we will get to know and trust at a Domino’s franchise owned by a man with three other businesses, none of which is in Jamaica Plain.
Small businesses with owners who are present are an important part of the community that we live in and play a vital role in our quality of life and our safety. We second the motion to vote against Domino’s.