Dayton’s first Gionini’s Pizzeria will begin a soft opening today at noon, with a grand opening celebration set for this weekend, restaurant staff confirmed this morning, May 21.
The pizza restaurant will be located in a former tire shop at 1528 E. Third St., near DK Effect.
The restaurant will be under a soft opening today through Saturday. There will be no delivery or online ordering until then. Saturday’s grand opening details are being finalized.
The franchise has about 45 locations between Cleveland and Canton, with a Columbus location as well. The first Dayton shop will primarily be pick-up and delivery, according to the owners. A small dining area seating 14 will be available.
“It is generally always rated the top (pizza) in the city,” owner Tony Clark said of Gionino’s in previous reports. “It is not just a pizza place. They have really good fried chicken and chicken wings and salads.”
***PREVIOUS COVERAGE: (May 3, 2019):
Dayton will soon know why Akron is crazy about “Jo-Jo’s.”
A former tire shop at 1528 E. Third St. is close to opening as the region's first Gionino's Pizzeria. If all goes as planned, Gionino’s is set to open by May 23, said owner Tony Clark. Situated directly across the street from the restaurant is DK Effect, also owned by Clark.
"It will be seamless with DK Effect," Clark said. Customers at DK Effect will be able to order anything from Gionino's menu and have their food brought directly to them inside the bar arcade gaming bar. The goal to open a Gionino's next to DK Effect has been in place since the bar's opening. Clark might say the plan began long, long before.
Clark grew up across the street from the very first Gionino's in Akron. It was a cherished and delicious part of his childhood and he said he can't wait for Dayton to see what all the hype is about, including "Jo-Jo's" — deep-fried potato wedges fried with the same breading as the pizzeria's fried chicken.
>>MORE: Your guide to the best Dayton-area pizza
Gionino’s is expecting to hire 25 to 30 employees before the opening. “Drivers” will deliver to a three-mile radius around the shop, as well as running food to customers at DK Effect.
“What differentiates us, personally, from other local pizza shops is we do the fried chicken,” Clark said. “Where I’m from, pizza and fried chicken go hand and hand. ... Down here that isn’t quite the case. So I think people are going to be really excited about the quality of the fried chicken and the wings also. So I think that’s going to kind of be what sets us apart is the breadth of our menu.”
The franchise has about 45 locations between Cleveland and Canton, but Daytonians already part of the Gionino’s following currently need to travel to the far side of Columbus to Pickerington for the nearest shop. The first Dayton shop will primarily be pick-up and delivery, Clark said.
A small dining area seating 14 will be available, although alcohol will only be available for purchase at DK Effect.
Clark was hoping to open the shop much sooner. However, as a former tire shop and before then a gas station, the property had to be almost completely renovated. The brick storefront that once housed the tire shop is now roof-to-floor windows. Construction was finally able to begin late last fall, just a year and a half after the opening of DK Effect.
“I think it is going to be really eye catching at night.”
The side-by-side establishments in the Historic Huffman Neighborhood is what Clark hopes is just the beginning of new life on East Third Street.