Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan at Lincoln & Nevada in Urbana

1974 - 1999


Lincoln & Nevada, 803 S Lincoln, Urbana, Illinois 61801

(217) 344-1212

Description — Permanently Closed

The 1974 opening of the Lincoln & Nevada location of Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan was immediately followed by a rocky reception from some of the nearby residents concerning zoning issues.1 It had the distinction of being listed in the “75 Good Eaters” guide.2

In 1971 a small piece published in The Daily Illini announced that Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan was born on Saturday, April 17 measuring 15 inches and weighing 4 pounds, 6 ounces.3 Over the next several years the “Flying Tomato Brothers”4 Ralph Senn and Joe Ream grew an innovative, cleverly-marketed pizza parlor at the University of Illinois into a multi-state college and shopping mall tradition.5 The two soon literally became the Flying Tomato Brothers as they incorporated hot-air balloon rides and other balloon-related promotions into their business.6 As Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan expanded, “Flying Tomato” was chosen as the restaurant name in southern states.7

In the 2000s business was tough for the Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan and Flying Tomato restaurants, and many of the locations shut down. Today, only a small number remain in operation.8 9

Unfortunately, this location of Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan closed in 1999.10


  1. Article: Urbana pans Garcia’s, The Daily Illini, January 26, 1974 

  2. Guide: A Guide to 75 Good Eateries in Champaign-Urbana, Ads to Go 

  3. Ad: A Blessed Event, The Daily Illini, Apr 23, 1971 

  4. Ad: Pan Pizza, The Daily Illini, Oct 22, 1971 

  5. Article: A slice of tradition, The Illio, 1982 

  6. Ad: Would you ride in a balloon with these two?, The Decatur Herald, Nov 9, 1979 

  7. Ad: Now Open!!, The North Texas Daily, Sep 4, 1984 

  8. Guide: Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan - 313 N Mattis Ave, Champaign, IL, Yelp 

  9. Guide: Garcia’s Pizza - 1099 W Main St, Decatur, IL, Yelp 

  10. Article: Champaign, Ill.-Based Pizza Chain Focuses on Minimarts over Restaurants, The News-Gazette, January 5, 2000 


  1. Is Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan at Lincoln & Nevada in Urbana really gone?
    Yes, it really is.
  2. It’s permanently closed?
    Yes. Sorry.
  3. Do you understand my pain right now?
    Just try to remember the good times.


  • 1996 January 1

    Lincoln & Nevada
    Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan
    • “Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan”
    • Sigma-Signs
    • Jan 1, 1996
  • 1975 November 14

    Garcia’s at Lincoln & Nevada 344-1212
    The Flying Tomato had landed
    • “The Flying Tomato had landed”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Nov 14, 1975
  • 1975 September 19

    Lincoln & Nevada: Pick-up or lightning Delivery
    What is The Flying Tomato?
    • “What is The Flying Tomato?”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Sep 19, 1975
  • 1974 April 5

    In Urbana: Garcia’s on Lincoln (Lincoln & Nevada) 344-1212 Call Here For Delivery
    Whole Wheat Crust! Is Nutritious!!
    • “Whole Wheat Crust! Is Nutritious!!”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Apr 5, 1974
  • 1974 February 9

    Garcia’s on Lincoln
    Heart-Shaped Pizza in a Pan
    • “Heart-Shaped Pizza in a Pan”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Feb 9, 1974
  • 1974 January 26

    On Thursday, one week after the Lincoln Avenue Garcia’s opened, the City of Urbana issued a court order closing it.
    Urbana pans Garcia’s
    • “Urbana pans Garcia’s”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Jan 26, 1974