Minneci's downtown closing after New Year's Eve
CHAMPAIGN — A longtime local Italian restaurant will serve its last plate of pasta next week.
Minneci's Traditionale, a fixture at First Street and Springfield Avenue for about three decades, will shutter on New Year's Eve. A second Minneci's, which opened this fall in southwest Champaign, will remain open.
A restaurant serving Mediterranean food will open in the First and Springfield space early next year.
Minneci's Ristorante dates back to the 1980s, when it was run by Pete and Maria Minneci and Mary and Joe Minneci. In 2008, Rob Meister and his cousin Jim Bier bought it. Meister became sole owner in June 2013.
In September, Meister opened a second restaurant, Minneci's at the Crossing, 2501 Village Green Place, C. Minneci's at the Crossing has space for 170 diners and employs 25.
The original one on First Street was rebranded as Minneci's Traditionale.
"Many people, including myself, have been eating there a long time. I have since I was a child. But I have to do what's best for the business and customers," Meister said.
"We want people to know they can always give us suggestions ... such as gluten-free items," he said. "We are happy to make things off of the menu and be as adaptive as possible. That will be easier to do by only worrying about one place to operate, instead of two."
Meister will lease the First Street location to the new restaurant's operators.