College football fans yelling for Notre Dame and Southern California filled the sports bar at The Loop Taste of Chicago Restaurant in Oro Valley on Saturday.

Owner Mark Rusin appreciates the spirit of the Fighting Irish. The Loop's first year as an independent restaurant has been a tough sled, Rusin acknowledged, with economic struggles, the construction along Oracle Road and the hot summer.

"Other than that, I'm very optimistic," Rusin said after the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce cut an anniversary ribbon at the business Saturday. He's looking forward to completion of road work, and the construction of a new Sunway hotel south on Oracle Road.

K.C. Carter, Oro Valley vice mayor, gave a personal endorsement before the ribbon was cut. He eats at The Loop regularly, and enjoys it.

Rusin is excited by the restaurant's thick pan pizza. Chef Dave Royle has joined the staff after time at Caffe Torino and Anthony's. "He's wonderful," Rusin said. "He's why we'll be a top restaurant for years to come." Pasta, pizza, salad, sandwiches, appetizers and more form the menu.

Rusin, a Chicagoan, has an autographed photo of Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan, Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers' jersey in a frame, and plenty of other sports memorabilia from the Windy City. "We're trying to be in the community," Rusin said, pointing out support for local soccer and softball teams. A sponsored golf tournament raised $23,000 for World Care.

The business had been part of the Uno Chicago Pizzeria chain before Rusin and wife Marcie assumed full ownership.

The Loop Taste of Chicago

10180 N. Oracle Road, Oro Valley

Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight.

Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

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