Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan at Wright & Green in Champaign

1973 - 1999


Wright & Green, 709 S Wright St, Champaign, Illinois 61820

(217) 344-1022

Description — Permanently Closed

In 1973 the Wright & Green location of Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan opened its doors and served about 500 students at peak times.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: Pizza plus makes okay diet, The Daily Illini, Sep 15, 1973 

  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 Wright & Green in Champaign 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.


  • 1999

    In the past month, Garcia’s Pizza-In-A-Pan has closed three of its five Champaign-Urbana shops, one shop in Decatur, two in Normal and one in Lafayette, Ind. Closing in Champaign-Urbana were the Garcia’s shops on South Lincoln Avenue, South Wright Street and North Mattis Avenue.
    • “Champaign, Ill.-Based Pizza Chain Focuses on Minimarts over Restaurants”
    • The News-Gazette
    • Jan 5, 2000
  • 1996 January 1

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

    Garcia’s by the Slice Wright & Green
    The Flying Tomato had landed
    • “The Flying Tomato had landed”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Nov 14, 1975
  • 1975 September 19

    Wright & Green: 3 for 25¢ pinballs. Huge 12 oz. beers still 40¢ - New! Three full floors of seating!
    What is The Flying Tomato?
    • “What is The Flying Tomato?”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Sep 19, 1975
  • 1974 February 13

    Garcia’s Today! And Every Wed. Wright and Green
    • “Garcia’s Today! And Every Wed. Wright and Green”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Feb 13, 1974
  • 1974 February 9

    Garcia’s on Wright St.
    Heart-Shaped Pizza in a Pan
    • “Heart-Shaped Pizza in a Pan”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Feb 9, 1974
  • 1973 September 15

    Pizza plus makes okay diet
    • “Pizza plus makes okay diet”
    • The Daily Illini
    • Sep 15, 1973