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John’s Pizzeria, One of Chicago’s Oldest, to Close After Nearly Seven Decades

When John’s Pizzeria opened in 1957, the cost of a large cheese pizza was $1.50

Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

As Chicago’s signature thin-crust pizza gains attention from national media, a tavern-style institution has announced its closure. John’s Pizzeria, a fixture for nearly seven decades in Bucktown, is closing on Friday, June 30.

A thin-crust Chicago thin pizza.
“Tavern-style pizza” or “party cut” didn’t mean a thing to John’s Pizzeria; they have just served pies since 1957.
John’s Pizzeria

Near the border of Logan Square and Bucktown at 2104 N. Western Avenue, John’s remained well preserved in the decades since Italian immigrant John Imburgia opened the restaurant in 1957. The tavern’s interiors helped give the space character much in the same ways South Siders cherish Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria. Like many Chicago pizza stories, Imburgia thought pizza was the key to making it in America. He died in 2002 leaving his brothers Larry and Tony to run the restaurant. Tony passed away in 2010.

The restaurant announced the closure on Saturday night and cited that the two-story building was being sold and the business had lost its lease. However, an early news report indicated the reason behind the closure as a family dispute. Larry Imburgia would clarify, saying that his sister, Frances, was selling the property, but there was no friction.

A black and white photo of a crowded bar.
A vintage photo from John’s Pizzeria, which opened in 1957.
John’s Pizzeria

Larry’s son, also named John Imburgia (the older John’s grandson), emailed Eater a statement: “We’re sad to close John’s Pizzeria, but we’re happy with the legacy we left and have been so appreciative with the warm response from the community with this announcement. We’ve loved serving Chicago delicious pizza for the last [66] years.”

Western Avenue continues to transform. Popular late-night hot dog stand Red Hot Ranch vacated a parcel next to John’s Pizza in March 2020 to move to a new location nearby. Coincidentally, John’s is using the property for customer parking.

In its shutter announcement, John’s included the pizzeria’s original menu with prices. A large cheese pizza cost $1.50. As a sign of the times, anchovy was also on the menu and the high rollers of the ‘50s would drop a spendy $1.80 for a large pie. An “everything” pizza cost $3.25. In 2023, a large cheese costs $17.25, a 900 percent increase over 66 years. With the cost of inflation, that’s still a great deal, as affordability was one of the traits that customers love about John’s.

The restaurant is scheduled to close on Friday, June 30, and half-baked pizzas will also be available.

Red Hot Ranch

2540 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (773) 772-6020

John's Pizzeria Ristorante & Lounge

2104 North Western Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 384-1755 Visit Website