Azzip No More
Did someone say pizza?!
When I first went off to college, many of you know I started at my community college. After two short years I ended up transferring to what I consider the best decision of my life: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That is where I first discovered my love for Azzip Pizza. Now let me be the first to say that yes it took me FOREVER to realize that Azzip was pizza spelled backwards. In case you were wondering on the unique name. There you have it.
Since it has been a couple of months since I graduated, I have had serious Azzip withdrawals. I had gone back a couple of times to visit friends and had always purchased at least two pizzas on two different occasions when visiting Champaign. It was almost a given that if I was coming to town, we would all be having Azzip for lunch or dinner.
What most didn’t know was my serious ties to this pizza place. This was the only pizza place on campus that was convenient, quick and easy. Not to mention their pizza was amazing in taste. It was always flavorful and they cooked my pizza to perfection. It was one of those pizza places that cook your pizza in the pizza oven for a few short minutes and well-ah it was done.
I had always joked throughout my senior year that Azzip would have to close down considering they were not going to get their weekly/monthly income from my alarming amount of purchases. I had to have went at least 3 or 4 times a week. This place was irresistible. Every time I went in I ordered the same pizza. It eventually came to the point where the manager and employees began to familiarize my face. I became one of those “regulars”.
Azzip has two main pizza sizes, a small zip (8 inches) and a big zip (11 inches). I would always of course order a “big zip”. You know what they say, go big or go home right?! Everytime I placed an order, I would do what they consider to be a half and half pizza.
What is on the pizza you ask? Well, for the sauces, I ordered half the pizza with their signature barbecue and ranch and the other half with their garlic butter sauce as well as their pesto sauce. Then I would finish the pizza up with chicken and cheese all over the entire pizza. This was then cooked to perfection like I said before and they never failed to cook this just how I liked it. I then became one of those people that liked to have their pizza cut in smaller pieces. I found this was an easier way to eat the pizza that was originally cut into bigger squares.
Overtime I had come to realize that this pizza was the same price every time I went in. Therefore, I knew exactly how much I needed to bring with me in order to make sure I could get the big zip. You know when you eat at a restaurant too many times when you know the price down to the penny.. Each time my pizza would cost me $8.22. Not bad right?! Not at all. Considering that I had what we call an “Illini Pride” card. This was something that Azzip had partnered with the school for in order to get the members a free drink with a purchase. Well of course I was involved in Illini Pride which was our largest student run organization pertaining to sports. Therefore, my meal was complete. On some days, you would get lucky and they would have double meat on your pizza free of charge or they would give a drink and cookie for free on certain days of the week.
Being as involved as I was on campus led my overrated pizza to become the “Phi Mu Special”. Shocker, I was in Phi Mu and my sorority had won a contest that was pertaining to who could come in and order/eat the most pizza. Phi Mu ended up winning this contest and the chapter had to know what we wanted our pizza to be known for. Well, what better way than to give it to the Azzip all star?! I let many women become aware of “my pizza” aka: “the Sara special” and they seemed to really like it. So, we went with it. They posted the sign on the wall for the remainder of the semester (the last semester of my senior year). This was surreal. I had been in love with this pizza place for as long as I was on campus and supported it in every way possible.
I would post on twitter, Instagram and even Facebook sometimes about how delicious my pizza had tasted and looked. I had tweeted @AzzipTweets on the daily. The cool part was that they would respond to me. I felt like part of the family. I was constantly there and constantly building my presence with them on social media. I once tried convincing them to open a location in one of the busier parts of Illinois like Schaumburg or even Chicago.
Well, I slowly started to realize some changes and it wasn’t that they were opening a new location. The manager who had constantly been running the Azzip in Champaign had no longer been working there. The more and more I went in, I noticed his absence more and more. Eventually, the owners of Azzip were helping finish the semester and prepare for summer. It seemed a bit odd but cool at the same time. I felt a certain way about the situation and hoped it would eventually be okay and I was going to give the new owner a chance at knowing my familiar face.
It wasn’t long until I finally graduated. Going back to Azzip was always a blessing. I truly think that Azzip shaped my college career in the sense that it was the only stable thing in my life at the time. Azzip was more to me than a pizza place on campus. The staff, the ownership and the students who were constantly at this place made me feel like I was home. It felt comfortable and who didn’t love devouring endless amounts of pizza? I know I did.
After I started a new job, it became hard to go back. I once saw a post on social media that Azzip in Champaign was to close. I couldn’t believe my eyes and even had to call the restaurant to verify this news. Sadly, the woman on the other end of the phone said it was true and they couldn’t talk too much about it. That was it. I was devastated. The only Azzip in Illinois was to close promptly and almost without warning. I wondered how I would fill that void considering the nearest Azzip location to where I live in Illinois is Indiana. More than a couple hours away.
They ended up closing because they realized how hard it was to stay open especially during the summer time when more than half of the population at our school would go home during the summer. A school around 45,000 students couldn’t keep a small town pizza place open. How devastating. Even though I do not visit UIUC as often as I would like, it almost makes me think about the future classes. They won’t even know what Azzip ever was. This place and their people are truly great and I wish all of them continued success even if they couldn’t have been successful in Illinois. After all, it is a difficult state especially during times like these.
So, I will leave you with this. Accept and embrace change. Maybe it was a sign that I ordered way too much pizza and probably gained an obscured amount of weight while doing so that it was time for them to say goodbye. Or time for me to say goodbye.. It could have been a million things but I truly want to leave you with a picture of in my opinion, my famous pizza. Take a look at that beauty while your mouth begins to water. Oh, and if you’re in the area of one of their locations, CHECK THEM OUT! I promise you will not regret it. As always, I will have to find time to go visit Indiana and pass through an Azzip Pizza just so I can use my hashtag once more. #AzzipForever