Pippen helping Giordanos slam dunk at new Glenview location

GLENVIEW — Since filing for bankruptcy in 2011 and coming under new ownership, Giordano’s has been building the infrastructure necessary for a successful expansion into the North Shore.

In preparing to open its first North Shore location in the Shops of Heatherfield in Glenview on Aug. 20, the company threw an opening celebration at the spot with none other than Bulls basketball legend Scottie Pippen on Aug. 17.

The recently-named brand ambassador began his visit with a tour of the new, primarily carry-out/delivery location at 2540 N. Waukegan Road, shot baskets with Glenview Village President Jim Patterson and a lucky fan, signed autographs and spoke to the crowd about his decision to partner up with the company.

“I can tell you firsthand, as someone who’s lived in the North Shore for the last 25-30 years, we’ve been waiting on Giordano’s to come here,” Pippen said.

He has a certain nostalgia for the brand, he said, recalling the many events he and the rest of the Bulls players had at Giordano’s in the city; so when Victory Park Capital—the company’s new ownership—requested his help promoting the brand’s northern expansion, he jumped at the chance.

“I was very surprised and happy when (Victory Park Capital Founder and CEO Richard Levy) asked me if I would like to be the ambassador,” Pippen said.

Wife Larsa, who, along with their four kids, joined Pippen on Sunday, said that Giordano’s was the family’s favorite pizza.

“Whenever I go to the city, I always grab a pizza from Giordano’s to-go for my kids, so I’m super excited that my haul won’t be all the way to the city. Now, it will be 10 minutes from home,” she said.

In addition to Patterson, Pippen was joined on Sunday by Levy, Giordano’s President and CEO Yorgo Koutsogiorgas, Giordano’s Glenview General Manager Barry Waterman and about 500 pizza and Pippen fans.

Glenview resident Kayne Grau not only won the opportunity to shoot baskets with Pippen at the event–he also won the shoot-out.

“I didn’t really understand what was going on there for a few seconds,” Grau laughed. “It was really nerve wracking!”

“I wasn’t feeling it today,” Pippen joked.

Throughout the day, samples of Giordano’s “Famous Stuffed Pizza” were given out, as well as samples of the brand’s revamped menu, which included chopped salad, buffalo-style chicken wings and ham and provolone pretzel rolls.

The man responsible for the new menu, Executive Chef Russell Bry, has a past that includes nearly 20 years as Executive Chef and Partner of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, helping to create and open restaurants like Maggiano’s Little Italy, Wildfire, Shaw’s Crab House, Ed Debivic’s and more.

“We have changed 100 percent of the menu that wasn’t pizza–we’ve added a few pizzas and toppings, but we’d be crazy to change an iconic branded pizza,” Bry said on Sunday.

The other 30 percent of the menu—the part of the menu that isn’t pizza—is an abbreviated version of Giordano’s full menu, as some items don’t “carry out” as well as others, he added.

Glenview’s menu includes starters like cheesy garlic bread, toasted beef ravioli and garlic parmesan fries, salads like the chopped, house and caesar salads, sandwiches like the “Southside” Italian beef and chicken parmesan and pastas that include oven-baked lasagna and fettuccine alfredo.

“We don’t have any restaurants in the North Shore, so we see Glenview as the beginning, like the launching pad for our growth in the area,” Koutsogiorgas said. “We had to secure the foundation of the company and build the infrastructure that would make it possible to grow, giving us the confidence to pursue new opportunities.”

“You learn to walk before you run,” he noted.

Koutsogiorgas sees Giordano’s expanding into Northbrook, Highland Park and Lake Forest.

With Chicago Bulls stars like Pippen and Derrick Rose as spokesmen—the latter of which additionally owns equity in the company—Giordano’s is hoping to gain momentum.

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