Two Utah State University alumni broke ground on a pizza restaurant in Cache Valley — ceremonially, at least, as construction is well underway.
Third generation Aggies Tom Willis and Thad Willis have partnered with USU to build an Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom restaurant on the USU Innovation Campus on the corner of 1400 North and 800 East.
“We picked this spot because we’re both alumni of Utah State and we want to be tied to the university and we also want to be tied into the community,” Co-Owner and General Manager Thad Willis said. “We hope this is a destination where people want to come. It’s a family restaurant.”
Old Chicago is known for its deep-dish pizza, other entrees, and a variety of craft beers.
Tom Willis is the CEO/president of Conestoga Energy Partners LLC, and as of 2018 also served on the National Sorghum Producers Board of Directors and The Koch Foundation’s Youth Entrepreneur Board, according to a profile from a speaking engagement with the Huntsman School of Business. Like fellow Innovation Campus tenants Vivint, Tom and his wife, Patty, are USU Athletics donors.
Over the past 24 months, the Innovation Campus has grown and created over 1,000 jobs. USU President Noelle Cockett said the addition of Old Chicago demonstrates the vision previous USU presidents had to expand the university past Maverik Stadium.
“We needed to provide space in a research park, we needed to build things that would anchor not only the university but the community,” Cockett said. “Having Old Chicago Pizza right here on this corner is really amazing.”
Cockett said the restaurant would provide USU students, staff and Cache Valley residents with another option to enjoy good food as well as a place to meet.
“This restaurant will have a lot of Aggie spirit to it,” Cockett said. “This is just going to bring more and more spirit back to our campus for our alumni, for our students, for our visitors.”
According to Thad, the Logan location would have 17 televisions available for sports news. Co-Owner Tom Willis said they want this location to be a family-friendly restaurant as well as welcoming to students.
“We want it to be for all types of people,” Tom said. “We’re happy to be on this campus as well.”
Thad said the restaurant would create job opportunities for students and Cache Valley residents. He hopes to hire 90 to 100 employees including four full-time managers, 15 to 20 full-time employees and 60 to 70 part-time employees.
Since the restaurant is walking distance from campus, Tom said he hopes USU students would take advantage of the job opportunities.
“We hope to have the flexibility around the classes and scheduling,” Tom said.
Although the restaurant is for-profit enterprise, Tom said the goal of the two alumni is to continually support the university.
Thad said they hope to open the restaurant to the public by the end of October.
The Logan location is expected to be the first restaurant of a five-unit agreement that Tom Willis’ company, TAC Ventures LLC., signed in April 2018, according to an Old Chicago press release at the time. The other locations will be elsewhere in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho, the release states.