Pizano’s Pizza to open on Water Street this spring

Chicago deep dish restaurant slowed by construction delays

Deep dish pizza-Shutterstock
Deep dish pizza, photo by Shutterstock

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:58 am

The wait may soon be over for deep dish pizza lovers in Milwaukee. Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta, the Chicago-based restaurant chain planning to open its first Wisconsin location downtown, is still going through with its plans—about a year later than scheduled.

Pizano's Pizza will bring Chicago deep dish to Milwaukee.
Pizano’s Pizza will bring Chicago deep dish to Milwaukee.

Originally scheduled to open in spring 2015, the restaurant is now on track to open at 1150 N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee in late May or early June, said Rudy Malnati, Jr., founder of Pizano’s.

Pizano’s will be located on the first floor of Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Grohmann Tower apartment building. Originally planned for a Staybridge Suites hotel, construction on the project was halted in 2009 and never resumed. MSOE purchased the half-finished building in 2013 and has completed student apartments in the 14-story building in phases since then, said Kevin Morin, vice president of operations at MSOE.

The reason for the delay in Pizano’s opening was partly due to the need to complete construction on the building, Morin said.

“The construction of the first floor, parts of it, have been part of what we called phase three of the building,” he said.

Phase three was finished in September 2015, and since then Pizano’s has been working to finish its 8,000-square-foot space.

“It’s a combined construction with the school, so we have to wait for the school to get done with what they’re doing and then we would go in and do what we’re going to do,” Malnati said. “We’re going to open.”

Obtaining permits also slowed the project down, he said. But the HVAC and plumbing work is completed and the floor will be poured this week, so progress is being made.

“We’re responsible for putting in some of the infrastructure, but not the entire infrastructure that would be required for a restaurant of the nature of Pizano’s, so that’s why we’re working in concert with them,” Morin said.

Malnati is not sure yet how many employees will be hired to work at Pizano’s in Milwaukee. He opened the first Pizano’s in 1991 and now owns six Pizano’s locations in Illinois and Rudy’s Bar and Grille in Chicago, where the family name is well known. The Malnati family’s pizza history dates back to 1943 when Malnati’s father, Rudy Malnati, Sr., managed and later became partner of the original Pizzeria Uno, where deep dish pizza began in Chicago. Boston-based Pizzeria Uno now has 140 locations. Malnati’s brother, Lou Malnati, established Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in the Chicago area in 1971. It now has 39 locations.

Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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