2nd try: Chicago-based pizza chain on cusp of Dubuque opening

After a multi-year delay, plans to bring a Chicago-based pizza chain to Dubuque’s Millwork District seem to have hit their stride.

A Gino’s East location will open this spring in the Novelty Iron Works Building, 333 E. 10th St., according to franchise operators Dave and Kathleen Patterson.

“Our goal is to recreate that Chicago deep-dish experience here in Dubuque,” Dave said. “We know there are a number of people who moved to Dubuque from the Chicago area and a number of people who live here and visit Chicago frequently. “

For many Dubuque residents, hearing about the arrival of the pizza chain might trigger a feeling of deja vu.

Officials with Novelty Iron Works initially announced plans to bring Gino’s East to Dubuque in January 2019, but that iteration of the eatery never came to fruition.

The Pattersons, who were not involved in the first go-round involving a Dubuque Gino’s, said this plan to bring the pizza chain to Dubuque is already full steam ahead.

“The biggest difference is that, this time, construction is actually being completed,” said Kathleen. “A couple years ago, the project never got to the construction phase.”

Buildout for Gino’s East started in October, and crews already have retrofitted the kitchen area to accommodate the large pizza ovens that are critical to making the Gino’s trademark pizzas. Contractors started installing seating in the restaurant this week, Kathleen added.

Gino’s East was founded in Chicago in 1966, and the pizza chain now has 10 locations nationwide, according to its website. In addition to five locations in Illinois, Gino’s has one restaurant each in California, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Michigan.

The Dubuque location — listed as “coming soon” on the website — will be its first in Iowa.

Dave Patterson said the Dubuque restaurant will employ about 50 workers. He currently expects it to have a soft opening in mid-March and be fully open by early April.

As construction has continued and Gino’s signage has been put in place, the soon-to-arrive restaurant has begun to generate some major buzz.

“It’s not a secret anymore,” Dave said with a chuckle. “Almost every day, there are people peeking in (to the restaurant) or asking about it. There is a lot of excitement about this.”

The Gino’s restaurant will be located on the ground level of the Novelty Iron Works building, occupying the space that formerly housed Foundry Restaurant and Bar.

“It will be great to have a nice dining option tucked in the corner of the building,” said Bob Johnson, the building’s co-owner.

News of the restaurant’s impending arrival marks the latest positive development for the building.

Gary Dolphin’s Iron Bar, which borrows its name from the well-known Dubuque County resident and Iowa Hawkeyes radio broadcaster, opened there in October.

During that same month, a Minnesota-based development company unveiled plans to invest $30 million to create a hotel in the building. Officials said at that time that construction should start in the first quarter of this year.