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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Cicis Pizza closes in S'ville; Sakura Bowl, Seafood King and Smartway Furniture open
NWI Business Ins and Outs

NWI Business Ins and Outs: Cicis Pizza closes in S'ville; Sakura Bowl, Seafood King and Smartway Furniture open

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

Cicis Pizza has served its last slice at the Crossroads of America in Schererville.

The family-style pizzeria, which offered an unlimited pizza buffet for $5.99, has closed after an eight-year run at 1686 U.S. 41, just north of U.S. 30.

A company spokesperson confirmed the franchise had closed. "We are not aware of plans to reopen in Schererville at this time," the spokesperson said.

Cicis Pizza still has a location at 6028 Central Ave. in the Meadows Shopping Center in Portage.

The Irving, Texas-based chain has more than 400 locations in more than 30 states. It serves an unlimited pizza buffet, pasta, wings and salads.

Cicis bills itself as a money-saving value option with unlimited helpings of an array of specialty pizzas like alfredo, mac and cheese, zesty ham and cheddar, and meat eater.

The 4,500-square-foot Schererville pizzeria offered both dine-in and carry-out in "a wholesome family atmosphere." The cheap dining option was located in the outdoor shopping center with Harbor Freight Tools, Dollar Tree, Etc. Thrift Store and other retailers and restaurants on the northwest side of the intersection of Indianapolis Boulevard and U.S. 30.


Sakura Bowl opens Sunday in the space of the former Lincoln's O Restaurant in downtown Highland, across from Growler's.

The owners of the Dragon Bowl Chinese restaurant in Munster expanded into Highland with a Japanese hibachi and sushi restaurant at 2813 Highland Ave.

Sushi is, of course, raw fish and rice with a garnish of pickled ginger and a hillock of as much wasabi as you can bear, while hibachi is seafood, meat and vegetables grilled on high heat on a metal plate. 

The new Asian restaurant replaces the Lincoln O's sandwich shop that carved up Italian subs and specialties like the U.S. Steel Special, Chester hoagie, Bunny Girl, Dagwood Cal City Special, Toledo sandwich and the Sibley Special for more than 55 years in downtown Highland before closing last year.

Sakura Bowl is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m Friday and Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 219-923-7777 or visit


A new seafood restaurant opened Saturday in Gary's Miller neighborhood, purporting to have the "best crab in Gary."

Seafood King is a carryout joint at 8000 Melton Road. Customers are encouraged to call ahead at least 15 minutes to get their orders to go. Owner Roderick Threatt hopes to eventually offer delivery through Uber Eats and DoorDash.

"I started doing this on my own five years ago and I never had no complaints," he said. "I've been cooking seafood from home and everybody loved my food. I think seafood is a good food. I like the taste. A lot of people think it's a good food to eat. I think this is good for the community."

The restaurant serves up food like crab legs, shrimp, fried crab legs, lobster tails and waffles, and seafood boils with jerk, Cajun or garlic butter flavoring.

"It's a great place to try different seafood," he said. "It's convenient."

The business is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day but Monday and Wednesday, when it's closed.

For more information, call 219-895-7185 or find the business on Facebook.

Temporarily closed

The Dairy Queen at 830 Ridge Road in Munster is undergoing extensive renovations this winter.

Now under construction, the ice cream parlor will be transformed from a standard Dairy Queen into a Dairy Queen Grill & Chill, a more conventional fast food restaurant that will offer hot food in addition to soft-serve ice cream, shakes, Blizzards and Dilly Bars.

The Grill & Chill concept also encompasses burgers, chicken tenders, Texas Toast and cheese curds. The restaurant's food menu previously only included cold deli sandwiches.

For more information, visit or call 219-836-8003.

Coming soon

M&M Car Care Center has returned to its roots in Schererville.

The automotive repair facility has been in business for 12 years, moving from Schererville to Merrillville a decade ago. Owner Jason Smith, a former auto repair technician at a dealership, bought an existing business in Schererville in 2007 and moved it to Merrillville two years later to double the space.

"We're an automotive repair shop," he said. "We do mechanical work. We don't do body work."

The company employs five workers at its 3,000-square-foot location in Merrillville. It plans to open a second site at 1233 U.S. 41 across from the Menards in Schererville on Jan. 6.

The new automotive repair shop in the former GB Transmissions and Auto Services will employ another five workers in a 4,500-square-foot space.

"My family lives in Schererville and we always wanted to get back into Schererville," he said. "This opened up for us and we wanted to do business in the town we live in. Even in Merrillville, we pull a lot from Schererville. Northwest Indiana is its own little island where people love mom and pop shops."

M&M Car Care Center hopes to expand further across Northwest Indiana, in markets like Crown Point and St. John. Customer service has helped drive the company's success, Smith said.

"To be honest, it's how we treat the customer," he said. "We feel we're in the customer service business, not the repair business. Anywhere you go, you can get the same parts from the same vendors. We feel what differentiates us is the customer experience. How you treat the customers makes you grow faster than just how you fix the cars. We value our customers."

The mechanic shop views its competition as dealerships and not other mechanic shops.

"We have an extremely trained staff and a clean facility," he said. "We like to think we compete with dealerships."

For more information, call 219-769-2475, visit or find the business on Facebook and Instagram.


Smartway Furniture opened a big-box store in a former Country Fresh Market grocery store in East Chicago.

The Calumet City-based discount furniture store opened a 35,000-square-foot store at 2121 E. Columbus Drive in East Chicago.

"It's a huge store," owner Ken Alshaikh said. "We carry furniture, bedding, rugs, and accessories."

Smartway obtained a jewelry license and plans to sell jewelry in the future at its East Chicago location, which employs around a dozen workers. The store specializes in brand name furniture at discount prices. It carries many brand-name products made in America like Ashley Furniture.

"There's a free TV with a purchase of $1,500," he said. "We meet or beat any price. We have a guarantee of anything you purchase for one year. We have excellent customer service. We offer layaway and financing and take credit cards and debit cards. we make it very convenient."

Smartway Furniture offers delivery to anywhere in East Chicago for $20.

"We try to make it very reasonable," he said. "We'll deliver anywhere. We don't care so long as you'll pay for it. We'll deliver to Indianapolis."

The retailer hopes to eventually expand to more locations.

"I'd like to hire more people and save people a lot of money," Alshaikh said. "We're not motivated by money, we'd just like to expand our business."

The business is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information, call 219-354-0067 or visit

If you've got tips about new stores or restaurants anywhere in the Region, or just wonder what's under construction somewhere, contact NWI Business Ins and Outs columnist Joseph S. Pete at or 219.933.3316.


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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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