The wait is over, for the most part: Maize is opening their Downtown Champaign location at 116 N. Chestnut in a fairly-official manner tomorrow, Friday, May 12th at 11 a.m. This comes just a week after opening for Cinco de Mayo for a single day.
Here's the story, straight from the man himself, owner Armando Sandoval:
As you might've noticed, there's a massive amount of construction happening on Green Street — directly in front of Maize's storefront at 1st and Green (60 E. Green Street) in Campustown. Customers are having a difficult time navagating to the location (soon both parking lots will be inaccessible), so Sandoval & co. are deciding to essentially move the "little" Maize to the new Downtown Champaign location. Transport employees, menu, hours (11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily), and all that good stuff to their train depot location. This could ultimately be a blessing in disguise, as it should ultimately run as the current one does, with the same experienced employees and such.
What is going to happen is this: Maize is going to open tomorrow in Downtown Champaign, normal hours as they would for their Green Street location: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. And with that, they'll continue to operate that Downtown location with the same hours as their "little" location — which will close for the time being.
I repeat: The 1st and Green location will be closed until further notice starting tomorrow, and the Downtown Champaign location will be the Maize you can visit and eat at. Not only that — drink beer, margaritas, and palomas as well. More room, some table service, and more.
While table service won't be full fledged — they'll have more wait staff that will be working throughout the restaurant. You'll still order right at the register, and wait for your food to come out in a timely fashion, just as the little Maize — same prices and menu as well. When the new location gets going, and the little Maize is ready to reopen — Sandoval mentions that the "new" location will get some augmented hours to be announced.
The "red" room will be what is open on Friday, which is roughly 60 seats, and as time moves on, there will be more space available for people to sit and enjoy (even the patio at some point, too). It is entirely possible the entire 240 seat restaurant could be available for seating on Saturday, but they aren't making any promises at this point in time.
When the new location is ready to have new hours, they'll have more employees, and more.
Here's what Sandoval had to say about this whole thing, in a conversation we just had:
"I want to give everyone the best service that I have, considering the situation we’re in. I want to be able to do a grand opening later on in the summer. When the little one is settled, and the big one is settled, a grand opening with new dishes and more drinks. I just want everyone to be relaxed and be able to enjoy what they already like, but have it with some Coronas and margs. I’m trying to make lemonade with lemons. [laughs]
Everyone has high expecations, and I want to give everyone. the best service that I can... I appreciate that everyone has been so loyal and patient, we are grateful for that."
So there you have it — while there are still a lot of moving parts, the Downtown Champaign location being open is real. We'll see when the Green Street location reopens, but Sandoval mentioned it could be a couple of weeks.
Top photo by Patrick Singer, other two photos by Seth Fein from the Cinco de Mayo dinner.