When one wants to go out to eat, it’s not just about the food. Nader Sepahpur, owner of the downtown Lincoln pizzeria Yia Yia’s, is opening a second location in east Lincoln this month with the goal of sharing its original food and ambience with more people in the city.
Sepahpur has been involved in the restaurant business since the 1980s. From growing up in a family business to owning several businesses of his own, Sepahpur has experience in providing a space for others to dine in. However, what Sepahpur especially appreciates about owning restaurants is the people aspect.
“Whether it’s my staff in back, or customers, socially, economically, culturally, I hit every person in our town in a way,” he said. “I love that about it. I’m good at the people end of it, the challenging part is just keeping up to times and staying fresh.”
Sepahpur’s latest project is the opening of a second Yia Yia’s location in the same space that used to house his burrito shop, Oso Burrito, at 2840 South 70th St. Sepahpur said he wants the new location to have its own identity. He described the new restaurant as “the kid that grew up and went off on his own.”
Although he is not an architect, Sepahpur said using space in an inventive way is very important to him. The organization and flow of his restaurants is always something that he creates, he said.
“It’s not just about the food, it’s about the environment and the room,” he said. “Everybody can make pizza and everyone can say they have the best pizza, but if you package the deal with the ambience of the room, you have an unbeatable product. Yia Yia’s is about food, but it’s also about the ambience.”
Many of the aesthetics at the new Yia Yia’s will be similar to those of the original, such as stained wood with rich tones and a handmade bar. But with its own particular finishings, such as golden chandeliers found at a salvage yard in Omaha and an open kitchen, the second location of Yia Yia’s will differ from the other in its own ways.
Ingrid Bangers has been a Yia Yia’s employee since before it was owned by Sepahpur and said she hopes the original location isn’t forgotten. At the same time, she said she is also excited for the opportunities that come with a new location, such as a chance for more people to experience Yia Yia’s.
“For so many years, people love coming to Yia Yia’s, but so many have said they just wish [we] were closer,” she said. “I think we’re making the people out east happier because there will be a Yia Yia’s closer to them. Hopefully it’ll make it easier for the people who’ve wondered about us to try a slice of Yia Yia’s pizza.”