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

1973 - 1999

Formerly

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

References

  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 

FAQ

  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.

Timeline

  • 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
    • isarchived.com
  • 1996 January 1

    Wright & Green
    Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan
    • “Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan”
    • Sigma-Signs
    • Jan 1, 1996
    • isarchived.com
  • 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
    • isarchived.com
  • 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
    • isarchived.com
  • 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
    • isarchived.com
  • 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
    • isarchived.com
  • 1973 September 15

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

Recent Closures

Closed, But Not Forgotten