By Pete Soyer
Another pizza chain will be calling Havre home in late October or early November.
Domino's Pizza is opening a store at 501 First St., franchisee James Mickolio said.
Domino's Pizza LLC surveyed Havre and "in their opinion found it would do well," he said. He added that Havre has been on the list of possible Domino's Pizza sites for three or four years.
Domino's has been pushing franchisees to build stores in small towns with a population of 8,000, 9,000 or higher because the corporation has found less competition in towns that size, Mickolio said.
Havre is already home to three other pizza restaurants. Pizza Pro, the newest of the pizza places, has been in business for about four years.
Russ Luke, the owner of Pizza Pro, said he isn't worried about Domino's moving to Havre.
"More power to them," he said. "To me, I don't feel it's going to hurt me one bit."
Nalivka's Original Pizza Kitchen, Havre's oldest pizza place, has called Havre home for about 40 years, owner Pat Jensen said.
"It's fine they come in," but any new business that moves into Havre hurts all the existing business it competes with, he said.
A new restaurant usually draws people away from established restaurants in town when it first opens, he said.
"The first three weeks to a month slow down and then (business) comes back," he said.
Jensen said he has seen other restaurants open and close during his run at Nalivka's.
With the recent closure of The Park Restaurant, Jensen said he thinks the economic outlook in Havre for a new restaurant isn't good.
He added that Nalivka's will always have its loyal customers
"We've been here 40 years and we'll keep plugging," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Pizza Hut in Havre declined to comment.
Mickolio said Havre's economy is only one item on the overall checklist of things a town needs to support a Domino's. Domino's looks at the competition, the population, if the town has a college, and the site location, among other things.
"Domino's has survived in poor economies," he said.
The location of 501 First St. was chosen because of the high amount of traffic. "Being on the corner is definitely a plus," Mickolio said.
He said he has been looking for a location for about a year, but no good locations were available.
The property came up for sale in May and "the Realtor called the day he put it up for sale."
The business formerly at 501 First St., Roberts Big Sky Repair, relocated to 3210 Highway 2 N.E., the old Battery Warehouse and Havre Muffler and Brakes building, after the First Street property was put up for sale. Store manager John Roberts said he was asked to vacate the property by the end of July.
The new location of Roberts Big Sky Repair will be more beneficial for the business, Roberts said. He said the new building has more room and it has easier access for the U-Haul trucks and trailers he leases. Roberts Big Sky Repair provides car maintenance and rents U-Hauls.
"We're up and rolling It looks like we're going to have a better situation here," he said.
Roberts had been renting the property at 501 First St. since June 1984, he said.
Mickolio said he bought the property for $175,000 and the property needs to be remodeled to accommodate the restaurant.
He said the property needs a total remodeling inside and out. The garage doors will come out, a new floor and ceiling will be put in, but the structure will stay, he said.
The day the doors open is still up in the air, Mickolio said. "The contractor said 60 days, but I'm sure there are other things we'll run into."
He said a manager will buy the Domino's from him after the store is on its feet. A manager from Bismark, N.D., is Mickolio's pick to buy the restaurant.
To open a Domino's franchise in Havre, Mickolio had to have managing experience of one year at a Domino's Pizza. The Domino's in Havre also has to send 8 to 9 percent of its sales each week to the Domino's corporation as payment for the franchise. This is Mickolio's first time opening a franchise.