New owner carrying on Mancino’s tradition in Lansing
A new owner has taken over a longstanding submarine sandwich shop and pizza place in downtown Lansing.
Greg Kowalski acquired Mancino’s Pizza & Grinders at 3300 Ridge Road. It’s been a mainstay of downtown Lansing since the 1990s and is part of a chain that once had locations in South Holland, Dyer and Schererville but does no longer. It still has a presence in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Kentucky.
“This is the only one left in the area,” he said. “Of course, we have competitors like McDonald’s on every corner.”
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The 2,200-square-foot restaurant serves pizzas, specialty pizzas, garlic cheese bread and salads. It’s best known for grinders, on an East Coast term for hot sub sandwich.
The menu includes a wide array of grinder options including Italian combo, Chicago steak, Italian beef, Mancino’s Club, Cajun chicken, chicken Parmesan, bacon chicken Ranchero, tuna, BLT, stromboli and meatball.
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Kowalski added three new flavors: Latino steak, Latino chicken and Ruben. The Latino options are comparable to tortas, the Mexican sandwich.
“It’s always been my dream to have my own restaurant,” he said. “I came from a different country when I was 14. I eventually had the opportunity to purchase the restaurant and the whole building.”
Kowalski originally tried to buy Warsaw Inn in Lynwood but it didn’t work out. He may add Polish food to the menu at Mancino’s in the future or open a Polish restaurant somewhere.
“I was a contractor who built homes but my heart was always toward cooking. I love cooking,” he said. “This is a very known place. The food is great already. It’s established. It’s an opportunity that came up because the owners were retiring and selling out so I went for it very quickly. I went forward with the opportunity overnight. I’ve been looking but you don’t often see a restaurant for sale.”
He bought the whole building and rehabilitated the outside, including by installing new signage, new lights and a coat of fresh paint.
“I made it pop a little bit more,” he said. “It’s a big improvement from the exterior before.”
The quick-serve restaurant employs 10 and seats up to 25. It has an established customer base.
“It serves the community and downtown Lansing,” he said. “It’s a great place.”
Kowalski has been looking to expand the customer base by adding online ordering and third-party delivery, which the previous owners did not have.
“It’s not fast food. Everything is made fresh,” he said. “All the sandwiches are baked in the oven. We don’t fry anything.”
He also printed up new menus and is running regular specials, including a half grinder for $6 on Monday. He’s interested in eventually expanding to other locations in the area but it would be with the same concept and menu but a different name due to franchising issues.
“With the shortage of employees we had a rough time but now are fully open with full hours,” he said.
Mancino’s is open from 11 am to 9 pm Monday through Thursday, from 11 am to 10 pm Friday and Saturday and from 12 pm to 7 pm Sunday.
For more information, visit grinderslansing.com or call 708-474-6337.
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