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Business

Pizza Kiosks Giving Domino’s a Bigger Slice of the Pie in Isla Vista

Franchisee's partnership with Tropicana Student Housing proving a hit with hungry college kids

As synonymous as pizza is with college, so has become the relationship between local college students and new kiosks they affectionately refer to as “automated pizza machines.”

Domino’s Pizza franchisee Mark Talarico is seeing great success in his partnership with Isla Vista’s Tropicana Student Housing and EMN8 (pronounced Eminate), which has been providing the kiosk platform that’s been attracting more students and business since last fall.

Two self-service kiosk ordering machines have been placed at each of Tropicana’s three private residence halls. That allows access for 330 UC Santa Barbara freshmen at Tropicana Del Norte, 550 Santa Barbara City College students at Tropicana Gardens, and 180 upperclassmen at the Villas at Tropicana.

Talarico came up with the idea to better reach college students, who were already his best customers at his store at 955 Embarcadero Del Mar. He happened to know Dave Wilcox, executive director of Tropicana Student Housing.

After approaching EMN8, the region’s first self-service kiosks were installed.

“All of them have been very popular,” Wilcox told Noozhawk. “The idea was that it would be delivered to them. To our knowledge, this is the first kiosk of this sort in the world. It’s serving the needs of our students.

“We know that college students like to stay up studying late,” he continued. “It’s convenient. It’s the future. I know for a fact that every night they’re being used.”

Students touch the kiosk screen to complete their orders as an electronic voice walks them through the steps, which include paying in cash or credit or debit cards when the order is placed. A meal can be picked up or delivered, although kiosk convenience emphasizes delivery. Students are also offered special meal discounts.

UCSB student Evelin Servin, a resident adviser at Tropicana Del Norte, said she enjoys how easy and interactive the kiosk is.

“I love it,” she said. “I really love things talking to me.”

There’s no dialing or waiting, although Wilcox has seen short lines forming, typically after regular dining hours.

Hope Neiman, EMN8’s chief marketing officer, said Domino’s franchises have seen an increase in revenue and, based on positive test rollouts, the company is working to expand the availability of the kiosks to additional markets in 2013.

EMN8, which was formed seven years ago, offers a number of ordering platforms, including the popular kiosk. The nearest ones to those found in Isla Vista will soon be going into Los Angeles locations, Neiman said.

“Tropicana was placement success,” she said. “Mark was one of the very first franchisees. They can expand their reach and their footprint without having to build another store. It’s making them (the kiosk users) a much more loyal Domino’s customer because of how familiar they become with the menu.”

Although Neiman couldn’t quantify the local franchise’s actual bump in revenue, she did say the increase in sales easily skyrockets participating Domino’s chains to the top nationally.

As a sign of success, Talarico threw a pizza party last month at Tropicana housing to celebrate the students’ boost in sales.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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