CHAMPAIGN — Zelma's Pizzeria and Grill could soon be sold, but longtime owner Ralph Monical says the restaurant is expected to keep its name and its recipe for pizza.
Monical, who opened the restaurant at 1103 W. Windsor Road, C, in December 2003, said he's trying to put the finishing touches on the sale.
"We're been trying to sell for a couple months. It looks like everything's going to go through," he said, not identifying the prospective buyers.
He said the new owners plan to keep the same name and are "basically buying the business."
Zelma's, located in the Windsor Galleria, serves pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and wraps, salads and appetizers. It's open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Ralph's son, Steve, who manages the business, said the last day the Monicals expect to operate Zelma's is Dec. 30. The new owners are likely to start operating it in early January, he said.
"It's going to be in good hands," Ralph Monical said. "It's going to be the same pizza. We'll be training them on that. The first two weeks, Steve will be helping them to make sure everything is done correctly."
Ralph Monical said he decided to sell Zelma's because he has another business project he could use Steve's help on. He said he couldn't divulge information about that project at this point.
Monical said he sold his other restaurant, Roma Ralph's in LeRoy, on Dec. 3. The new owners of the business — now known as Pizzeria Roma — are Chuck and Kristina White of LeRoy.
"We've left the pizza recipe as is, and we're not changing the other (menu) options," said Kristina White, formerly a troubleshooter for Jack In The Box restaurants.
"We're planning to add to the menu in January," she added. "We're looking to add hot wings and dessert options."
Ralph Monical started making pizzas in 1959 in Tolono and eventually opened dozens of Monical's Pizza restaurants in central Illinois before selling his interest in the company in 1982.
Today Monical Pizza Corp., based in Bradley, has 66 Monical's Pizza restaurants in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.