Five Guys is out and one Italian restaurant is moving in.
Piada Italian Street Food is set to open in spring 2016 on State Street in the former home of Five Guys Burgers and Fries. The burger shop closed in June after financial troubles, and the building has been vacant since. Piada currently operates in two cities in Michigan, as well as in a number of other states.
Matt Eisenacher, director of marketing for Piada, said Ann Arbor was an attractive city for the restaurant brand to expand into for two main reasons.
“Ann Arbor is just a good food community, a good food culture,” Eisenacher said. “The community really appreciates good food and seeks better food options. Two, we just heard from a lot of people as we moved into Michigan — and obviously we’re in Toledo and Cleveland as well — we just kept hearing ‘Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor’ over and over again so really we just had our eyes so I’m finding the perfect site.”
In addition to Ann Arbor food culture, Eisenacher believes the business will thrive because of the city’s young residents.
“Especially younger generations are looking to put more of their fingerprint on the food that they’re choosing,” he said. “They like the fact that they can choose what goes into their meal, and two, they like the fresher options. The younger generation realizes they can get better food without having to empty their pockets for it. We seek to provide fresh or food at an affordable price and obviously I think that’s something that appeals to college students.”
LSA sophomore Alex Ngo, who worked at the Troy, Mich., Piada for five months before coming to the University, said she thinks the setup of the restaurant will appeal to college students.
“I love the setup of Piada because it is similar to Chipotle in the sense that people call it the ‘Italian Chipotle’ when you stand in line and order, the ingredients are right in front of you and the team members walk you down the line and make the food fresh in front of you,” Ngo said. “I think people would enjoy Piada a lot because it’s like wraps, salads and pasta bowls to go and it is relatively cheaper than other casual fast-food restaurants. Piada is also one of those restaurants you can never have too much of, so I think it’ll fare well with the budget-conscious college students here in Ann Arbor.”
For students interested in working at the new Piada, the company offers a tuition assistance program for employees.
“For supervisors and above — there’s three levels that we have of supervision here at our restaurants — we offer $1,000 back per quarter with a maximum of $2,000 per year,” Eisenacher said.
Though the opening is months away, people can sign up as a pre-opening VIP member by following the restaurant on social media or signing up on their website. Piada will choose about 1,500 people to eat for free the week before the opening.