Giordano’s helps bring a taste of Chicago to Champaign

Giordanos opened in its new location on Jan. 10th, at Market Place on Neil St. in Champaign.

Photo Courtesy of Giordano's

Giordano’s opened in it’s new location on Jan. 10th, at Market Place on Neil St. in Champaign.

By Olivia Bienvenue, Staff Writer

After 42 years of business and with over 50 locations, Giordano’s has finally opened a restaurant in Champaign.

The restaurant opened Jan. 10 in Market Place Mall, located at 2000 N. Neil St. in Champaign.  It is the first of two famous Chicago restaurant chains opening in Champaign in 2017: Portillo’s restaurant is also scheduled to open later this year.

Native Chicago businesses seem to be realizing that catering to the significant portion of University students that are from Chicagoland could be a big opportunity.

“That’s why we opened in Champaign, because of the number of U of I students from Chicago,” said Peter Nicol, owner of the new Giordano’s location.

Nicol said the business has been doing well so far with college students from Parkland College. He said he expects the restaurant to become even busier now that University students are back from winter break.

Maxwell Aronsohn, freshman in LAS and Chicagoland native, said he is looking forward to seeing some of his favorite restaurants opening up in Champaign.

“It’s exciting. It seems like they’re kind of implementing some Chicago-style stuff. Portillo’s is coming, Giordano’s came, so that’s pretty cool,” Aronsohn said.

Aronsohn also said that he thinks these businesses will do very well with college students in general.

“Even for kids that I know that aren’t from Chicago, it’s like try this,” Aronsohn said.

Nicol is hoping that being from Chicago will give the business an advantage over other restaurants that serve deep dish pizza.

“Giordano’s was started in 1974 in Chicago as the deep dish.  It’s probably the most famous Chicago deep dish.  We have the two crusts and just very quality ingredients,” Nicol said.

However, Andrea Seten, general manager of Papa Del’s, a popular restaurant in Champaign known for their deep dish, said that so far the opening of Giordano’s has not affected business at Papa Del’s.

“We have been busier than we’ve ever been during student breaks … I don’t know that it really affected us.  This last weekend was very busy for us,” Seten said.

Seten said about a quarter of Papa Del’s business comes from college students. 

She also said Papa Del’s deep dish is one-of-a-kind, and the freshness of the dough sets the pizza apart from others.

“There isn’t one out there that’s the same.  We make our dough fresh every two hours. 

A lot of places will make dough a couple times a day and refrigerate it, but we never refrigerate our dough. We use it fresh,” she said.

Seten also said although Giordano’s appeal to students from Chicagoland may sway customers to choose their hometown favorite, Papa Del’s has a hometown advantage here in Champaign too. She said students not native to Chicago may be willing to try Giordano’s, but she does not think that it will affect Papa Del’s overall business.

“I also think we have a huge amount of people that come here because their parents went to school here and they’re familiar with Papa Del’s,” Seten said.

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