Life in the Slow Lane building

A family of Domino’s franchise owners recently purchased the former Life in the Slow Lane building, where they are planing to turn part of the lower level into a new branch of the pizza chain.

Domino’s is coming to Astoria.

Pat Farmer’s family, including his father, Jeff, and brother, Chris, owns nearly 30 Domino’s locations across the Pacific Northwest. They plan to open an Astoria location in the spring inside the former Life in the Slow Lane building at 16th Street and Marine Drive.

They recently purchased the sky blue building on the edge of downtown from Tracy and Donna Black. The couple spent more than two years tearing down a former laundromat, cleaning the property and having the structure built for their short-lived, old-timey hot dog, soda and gelato restaurant.

Pat and Chris Farmer grew up in Hoquiam, Washington. The family has been quickly expanding on the coast, opening locations in Newport, Seaside and at the North Coast Retail Center in Warrenton in 2018.

“We went into Warrenton thinking we could service both communities well,” Pat Farmer said. “But we’ve come to the realization that going over the bridge is just too long of a drive.”

The company was delivering as far east as 39th Street, but going farther meant going outside of the 18 to 22 minutes for delivery time they target, he said. The company also has a contract to deliver pizzas to the Astoria School District’s food service program.

The family is planning a 1,500-square-foot restaurant occupying most of the downstairs and about one-third of the building, zoned for retail and restaurants. The Astoria location will focus on carryouts and deliveries rather than dining in, Pat Farmer said. The rest of the building will be leased out.

The Farmers’ expansion into Astoria comes as the city is exploring a prohibition on additional chain restaurants, such as Domino’s, to prevent them from squeezing out smaller, locally based competitors.

But Pat Farmer argued he and his family are independent operators who have worked their way up from pizza-makers and drivers to managers and owners.

Jeff Farmer started the family’s collection with his first franchise in Coos Bay in 1987 and another in Hoquiam in 1988, according to a profile in The Daily World, an Aberdeen newspaper. His sons helped expand the family’s territory across much of western Washington and into Oregon. Astoria will be the family’s 29th location, Pat Farmer said.

“It’s still Pat, Jeff and Chris — a dad and two sons — trying to provide opportunities to their employees,” Pat Farmer said.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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(3) comments

Barry Plotkin

As a post-script to my previous remark, it seems to me that, similarly to the argument against the Grocery Outlet proposal, there is a public safety issue in the Domino's proposal. Domino's is not about good pizza, it is about fast delivery. The franchise owners' say that is their main reason for wanting an Astoria location. Their drivers cannot get "here" fast enough to meet their fast-delivery promise. Do we really want their goal of time-constrained delivery to compromise public safety, when, especially in the tourist season, we already have major traffic problems? I would say that a single statistically-predicted death from a speeding Domino's delivery driver would be sufficient to quash their intended-use application.

Barry Plotkin

It is very unfortunate that "Life in the Slow Lane" did not succeed, and I do not begrudge the former owners' trying to recoup as much of their investment as possible, but if a Domino's is the highest and best use of that centrally-located asset, then there is definitely something wrong with Astoria's planning process. Commodification of the downtown core simply should not be an option.

Slappy McFerrin

You should choose your battles more carefully. It's a pizza franchise owned by NW locals, not an LNG facility or a server farm. And the notion that it somehow creates a public safety issue is laughable. By your own logic, opening a Domino's in Astoria would actually improve public safety because their Warrenton drivers wouldn't have to race across the bay anymore.

When you say "centrally-located asset" you seem to imply that the public is paying for upkeep and property taxes. Is there something I'm missing?

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