The wait for a replacement to the state street Five Guys is over. Piada Italian Street Food — a fast, casual Italian restaurant — celebrated the public grand opening of their Ann Arbor location on State Street Friday.
The new restaurant is the third Piada in Michigan and the 29th in the country for the franchise, which is based in Columbus, Ohio. Other locations in Michigan include Troy and Shelby Township, in addition to restaurants spread out across the Midwest and as far south as Texas.
Piada’s concept, comparable to other establishments such as Chipotle and Pancheros, emphasizes speed and value without sacrificing quality or freshness to separate itself from other restaurants in Ann Arbor, according to Director of Marketing Matt Eisenacher.
“Where can you go for five to 10 minutes and get calamari as fresh as what we have?” Eisenacher said.
LSA sophomore Maureen Wiltsee said this preparation concept is one of Piada’s appeals to her.
“I like that it’s a create-your-own kind of meal,” said Wiltsee. “It’s like Subway or Pancheros, only with pasta instead of burritos”
The menu of Italian-style cuisine offers the option of choosing one of three customizable main courses — a pasta bowl, salad or piada.
The piada is the cornerstone of the restaurant’s menu. Consisting of a wrap made with thin crust dough, customers have the option of filling it with their choice of meats, cheeses, vegetables and other toppings.
“From the first point where you order, in two to three minutes, you get things like fresh salmon and fresh calamari,” Eisenacher said. “It’s the combination of quality and speed, which we think has really made us unique in the fast-casual space.”
He also noted that Ann Arbor has one of the most developed and varied restaurant scenes in the country, making sense for the company to expand to the city.
“One of the reasons that we targeted Ann Arbor is because we always knew that it has a very food-oriented culture,” Eisenacher said. “We hope we add to the foodie culture.”
In addition to the main customizable courses, Piada also offers Italian-inspired seasonal sides such as Tuscan kale, quinoa and orzo crunch.
Mike Schack, a partner of the restaurant and head chef, said Piada has a healthy appeal that other restaurants may not.
“It’s somewhere fast where you can get something good,” Schack said. “It’s not a greasy burger. It’s somewhere where you can be healthy and feel good about yourself.”
The Piada chain also emphasizes giving back to the local community, something Eisenacher believes is a vital part of the restaurant’s success.
“Every community we enter, we usually have very distinct ways of giving money back to local organizations” Eisenacher said. “We don’t have any national organizations that we give to. We allow our chefs and our locations to give back locally.”
Schack and Eisenacher added that they both believe the customer’s experience is important to Piada’s success, saying the attitude of the staff and the overall atmosphere contributes to a positive diner experience.
“I feel that our team wants to be here,” Schack said. “And that is something that the guests can feel.”
Eisenacher said he wants every customer to feel welcomed and a part of the Piada family.
“What we hope to do is make sure that anyone who walks through those doors has an awesome experience,” he said.