July 30, 2009

Eric's Blog: Avanti's Memories

By Eric Shangraw

July 15, 2010 Updated Nov 5, 2009 at 11:18 AM CDT

Confession: I worked at Avanti's in Normal while attending Illinois State University in the 1980's. I would bring home leftover bread at the end of the night and barter with my roommates for other food. I can remembering Brian Carter giving me a box off Mac N Cheese for half a cheese bread. A pizza would be worth a can of tuna and a loaf of bread. In college, one did whatever you needed to survive and eat a variety of food. I would show up starving for the Saturday morning shift and start the day cutting bread and dipping ever other piece in the meat sauce. It was breakfast and lunch.

The folks at Avanti's are nice people. The owner of the stores in Bloomington-Normal, Rich Zeller, graduated from Central Catholic High School the same year I graduated from Normal Community, 1983.

I remember seeing him at parties Saturday night and church Sunday morning.

What I'm trying to say is I'm not very unbiased when reviewing Avanti's, no matter what city it is in. The original restaurant in Normal is also where I had my first date driving my dad's car. Not sure of the girl. But I remember the meal and Dad's 1980 dual-exhaust Chevy Nova. It would lay a patch half a block long down a rural McLean County Road.

For just about anyone growing up in Peoria or the twin cities, Avanti's conjures up some kind of memory.