Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

December 21, 2013

Avon businessman goes from Sweet Treats to Chicago's Pizza

By Brenda L. Holmes brenda.holmes@flyergroup.com
Hendricks County Flyer

---- — AVON — James Nicely has opened a Chicago’s Pizza Express in Avon. He owned and operated Sweet Treats in the same location.

Nicely said he really enjoyed the bakery but began to transform the business by adding food.

“We had a good product,” he said. “And I do miss the sweets, but I decided to go into another direction.”

Nicely gave his bakery clientele to his pastry chef who is now operating the business as Zoey Cakes.

“Sweet Treats may pop up again someday,” he said. “But for now, I’m going to concentrate on the Chicago’s.”

Nicely said when he was a kid he would hang out at the Chicago’s Pizza in Clermont.

“It was always packed on Friday and Saturday nights,” he said. “It was a great time.”

He said Chicago’s Pizza, still under the leadership of CEO Bob McDonald, now 81, had been toying with the idea of an express shop. McDonald founded Chicago’s Pizza on Sept. 16, 1979, with Ron Epple.

McDonald personally came to Avon this week to help with the opening.

“He always comes out to an opening of a new location,” Nicely said. “He was here helping us make pizzas on Monday night.”

Nicely was trained in the Chicago’s Pizzas owned by Dave Childers who has franchises in French Lick and downtown.

“We spend a lot of time there learning how they do things,” Nicely said. “The first Chicago’s Pizza in Indiana was downtown on Monument Circle.”

The shop makes its dough fresh each day. Crusts are always fresh and never frozen.

“Chicago’s Pizza has been in the Indianapolis area for 34 years,” Nicely said. “My father-in-law had the first Chicago’s Pizza franchise years ago.”

He said just because there is no seating in the shop does not mean customers will be disappointed in the product.

“We’ve taken the regular menu and just made it to go,” he said. “They have three salads and we always have them made up and ready to go. We’ve also added a few sweets to the menu.”

The Chicago’s Pizza Express offers traditional pizza, deep dish pizza, bread sticks, sandwiches, pasta, and salads. The shop will offer Chicago’s Pizza favorite cinnamon sugar desert pizza but there are a few sweet items unique to the Avon menu.

“We’ve added cheesecake and I have created a cherry or apple pizza. They come drizzled with icing,” he said. “See I can’t quite get away from those sweets.”

Customers can walk in to get a personal size pizza that will be hot and ready to go. There will be a lunch special that will cost about $5 per customer.

“People will also be able to call in an order and we can have it hot and ready for them inside or at our pick up window,” Nicely said. “We will be starting delivery service in mid-January.

“We have a great location with good exposure. We purchased all new ovens and equipment. We’ve got a two-conveyor belt oven that does really well.”

He said customers will get just what they expect from a Chicago’s Pizza.

“Everything will be consistent,” he said. “Sometimes you will go into a restaurant and order something you’ve had before but it isn’t the same. We’ll be able to give you a consistent product. If you order 50 cheese pizzas, they’ll all taste the same.”

Chicago’s Pizza Express is at 7900 U.S. 36, Avon, behind CVS. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. To place an order, call the shop at 272-4955.