Garcia’s closes Green Street location, looks to return next semester

Erica Magda

Erica Magda

By John McDermott

After serving campus for 32 years, Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan closed its Green Street location earlier this month. Garcia’s hopes to return to campus in late February or early March. Meanwhile, they will continue to serve their signature pan pizza from their 313. N. Mattis Ave. site, said Ralph Senn, Garcia’s co-owner and co-founder.

“The Green Street store was great at a different time, but it’s bigger than suits us now,” said Joe Ream, Garcia’s other owner-founder.

Ream and Senn stated the size of their Green Street building made it difficult to fill and expensive to heat and cool. Despite revealing little about their tentatively scheduled re-opening, Ream and Senn both said that their new store will be smaller, more cost efficient and will offer quicker service.

Ream and Senn, frequently referred to as the Flying Tomato Brothers, opened Garcia’s in 1971, just two years after receiving University degrees in psychology and advertising respectively. The idea for opening a panned pizza establishment came to Senn after he observed pledges in Ream’s fraternity traveling to downtown Chicago to retrieve panned pizzas from places such as Pizzeria Uno and Gino’s East. Recognizing the large number of Chicago-based students on campus, Ream and Senn realized that an on-campus panned pizza shop would be a viable business. Neither had any restaurant experience prior to founding the new store. They moved from their original Wright and Green location to Second and Green in 1976.

Plans for the vacated 108 E. Green St. building remain undetermined, but Barr Real Estate brokerage assistant Dave Wetzel said that several people have expressed interest in the property, with one potential buyer presenting plans to redevelop the building and the surrounding area. The asking price for the property is $4.3 million, with no plans to continue leasing the property.

Despite the long stay on Green Street, Senn is not entirely upset about their change of location.

“Am I going miss it? Yes. But I’m not going miss cleaning out the bathrooms at one in the morning or fixing the air conditioners,” Senn said. “And I’m not going to miss the people because I’m going to be back in the neighborhood in a few months.”