Maize to expand with downtown Champaign location


The Daily Illini File Photo

The new Maize location will be at the Station, Downtown Champaign (100 N. Chestnut, formally 116 N. Chestnut).

By Caroline Holston, Contributing writer

The Green Street favorite, Maize, is expanding its operations with a second location in downtown Champaign.

The restaurant is taking over the Station, located at 100 N. Chestnut St. For five years, the authentic Mexican cuisine Maize offers has had students and Champaign locals squeezing onto 17 bar stools. The expansion into a larger space will allow the popular restaurant to accommodate up to 240 diners.

Maize Mexican Grill is an on-campus, homemade Mexican restaurant that prides itself on making its meals completely from scratch — a special treat for college students.

Handmade tortillas are an easy sell for almost anyone. When going to Maize, it can sometimes be challenging to find a seat in the crowds of people and limited space. The popularity is something to be said about the food, but the crowdedness can deter customers from coming in and dining.

This is where the downtown Champaign location comes in, providing some relief to the crowds.

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Armando Sandoval, owner and operator of Maize Champaign, said he is aware that it can, at times, be uncomfortable for his customers to fill in the current small space. With that, he said he is very excited to accommodate the eclectic feeling the restaurant has with his new location.

“I love this place, but we are expanding for the comfort of our customers,” Sandoval said. “We have a very loyal following, and our downtown Champaign location will make it more accessible for many people.”

Sandoval said the current operating location is half take-out and half dine in.

During the summer, a large Champaign local crowd dines in the restaurant when Green Street is less busy. The more spacious location will allow for those customers to dine year-round without the worry of Maize being too packed.

For students, the news of Maize opening its doors in downtown Champaign is also exciting.

Zack Barangan, sophomore in AHS, has frequented Maize for about a year.

“Maize offers the best Mexican food on campus — I go as often as I can,” Barangan said. “Another off-campus location will be nice when you want to go enjoy a sit down meal; with the space offered currently, it is more of a carry-out food place for me.”

The downtown Champaign location is on track for full service later in the summer.

With graduation weekend approaching and the construction on Green Street making Maize hard to get to by car, Sandoval said he is trying to have partial service during a usually very busy weekend.

Though it is not yet confirmed, Sandoval said he hopes to give people a sneak peak of what is to come by opening the new location’s doors for a celebratory graduation weekend.

The downtown location is equipped with more parking spaces, two dining rooms and a back patio. It will now be an option for group orders to be placed through Maize with the larger prep kitchen.

“There has been word-of-mouth talk of a second Maize location for a while,” Barangan said. “It is great to finally see it coming to together and happening this summer. For students coming back in the fall, two locations will be nice to choose from.”

Jacqueline Hardin, student in Engineering, lives near the on-campus Maize and said she loves the easy accessibility it offers for grab-and-go food.

“The food is delicious and easy to place and order and go,” Hardin said. “I don’t eat in usually because it is always so busy with people; the good food attracts a lot of people.”

The official opening of the downtown Champaign Maize location has not been announced.

As Sandoval said, there is much excitement and work going into making sure everything is perfect for the second location of the popular Mexican restaurant.

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