STREETERVILLE — One of Chicago’s oldest pizzerias is getting a little sweeter with the help of one of the city’s legendary ice cream shops.
Gino’s East and Rainbow Cone are teaming up to host a permanent ice cream kiosk in at Gino’s East, 162 E. Superior St., right off the Magnificent Mile. It will open June 29, bringing a spark to the classic pizza place, company officials said.
“As a business that has been in that location since the 1960s, we’ve seen all the ups and downs of Michigan Avenue,” said Jordan Himmel, chief information officer at Bravo Restaurants, the restaurant group of Gino’s East. “We’ve got to do our part to keep our city moving in the right direction.”
Rainbow Cone is known for its signature five flavors — chocolate, pistachio, orange sherbet, strawberry and Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts). The sliced-not-scooped treat began as a singular ice cream shop in Beverly in 1926, and now can be spotted at Navy Pier, in the suburbs, as well as in Indiana and Florida.
“We weren’t choosing between any other operators, it just happened the right way,” said Johnny Buonavolanto, sales and marketing manager for Rainbow Cone. “It just kind of happened the right way. The timing worked out, and the location is fantastic.”
Buonavolanto said the kiosk will include a variety of options from the Rainbow Cone menu.
“… You’ll be able to get rainbow cones, shakes, you can even order a cake there. About 90 percent of our menu will be available there,” Buonavolanto said.
The Himmel and Buonavolanto families — who run Buona Beef — have had a strong relationship throughout their years in the food industry.
“Our families have been operating restaurants in the city for many decades. We’re always trying to come up with ideas that innovate the way that we operate,” Himmel said. “For us to continue to expand and keep momentum flowing in the right direction, this partnership made a lot of sense.”
The Superior Street location is the original Gino’s East restaurant, founded in 1966, although today the iconic spot also has establishments across the Chicago suburbs and in California, Tennessee and Texas.
Gino’s East isn’t Rainbow Cone’s first culinary partnership. In 2021, the shop partnered with Buona Beef, making its way to the restaurant’s location in suburban Darien, including an indoor kiosk, similar to what will be inside the Gino’s East location later this month. There are now a host of Rainbow Cones in the suburbs, some in Buona Beef locations, and the company is offering franchise opportunities in other states.
“Our customers love that in our Buona restaurants, so it made this partnership with Gino’s East that much easier to decide on,” Buonavolanto said. As Rainbow Cone continues to make expansions in the city, Buonavolanto has even bigger plans for the company moving forward.
“We hope that in the next 10 years, we can have a hundred Rainbow Cone locations. The goal is to bring Rainbow Cone to as many communities as we can,” Buonavolanto said.
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