New restaurant may take former Gould space by spring

New restaurant may take former Gould space by spring

CHAMPAIGN — The space recently vacated by Jim Gould Restaurant could become the home of another restaurant, Big Grove Tavern, this spring, a spokeswoman for One Main Development said.

"I would describe it as extremely accessible, with a more palatable price point for more people," said Cynthia Faullin, One Main's vice president of development.

"I don't think you'll be seeing entrees in the high $20s on the menu," she added.

The restaurant would be owned by a group of investors, most of whom are local, she said. Michael Johnson, who once worked at Jim Gould, would be general manager for Big Grove Tavern, and Jessica Gorin the chef, Faullin said.

Gorin most recently worked as chef for the ThirstyBear Restaurant and Brewery in San Francisco, Faullin said. Gorin's husband, Jonathan Greenberg, recently accepted a job as assistant professor in the geography department at the University of Illinois.

Faullin said plans call for Big Grove Tavern to open in the middle of March.

However, Dave Jones, chief financial officer of One Main Development, said Wednesday a lease has not been finalized.

In the meantime, management is seeking servers, hosts, bartenders, line cooks, prep cooks and dishwashers, and Faullin estimated the restaurant would have a staff of 50 to 60.

With plans to serve both lunch and dinner, Big Grove Tavern aims to offer "a nice mix of everything across the board" with a concentration on fresh produce and meats, Faullin said.

Menu items wouldn't be "overly complex," Faullin said, and would include "comfort foods that are not heavy."

Big Grove Tavern would take the entire space occupied by Jim Gould, with some renovations to the interior likely, Faullin said.

Some half-walls would be taken down, and there are plans to extend the length of the bar and create more seating in that area, she said. The private dining rooms to the east would be retained.

Johnson, who was front-of-the-house manager for Jim Gould when it opened and who most recently worked at Silvercreek restaurant in Urbana, said he hopes to provide more details on Big Grove Tavern later.

"What we want to do and turn it into is very rough as of now," he said Wednesday while working in the vacant space.

Gorin said she worked three years for ThirstyBear, which she described as an organic brewery and Spanish restaurant that was certified as "green."

Gorin said organic, sustainable foods are "close to my heart," given her bachelor's degree was in ecology and evolution and her doctoral work was in population biology.

The chef said she worked with "a lot of local farms" in California and she hopes to work with farmers and purveyors here in getting ingredients for the local venture.

The name Big Grove would be "a nod" to the historic Big Grove area on Urbana's northeast side, Faullin said. Some of Urbana's earliest settlers lived on the southern edge of that stand of trees.

Jim Gould Restaurant opened in 2005 as a first-floor anchor for the One Main Plaza building at Neil and Main streets in downtown Champaign. The fine-dining restaurant, which could accommodate 280 patrons, closed in December.

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lga wrote on January 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I'm curious: we have some folks on this site who blame Obama everytime a local restaurant closes. Do we get to attribute this positive development to him, too?

rdpro wrote on January 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Yes, this is definitely the work of BHO.  Hopefully, they can hire a dozen or so federal employees or better yet unionize their staff so we can pay $25 for that organic cheeseburger.

logicalpositivist wrote on January 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

“Cynthia Faullin, One Main's vice president of development…


said plans call for Big Grove Tavern to open in the middle of March.


However, Dave Jones, chief financial officer of One Main Development, said Wednesday a lease has not been finalized.”


It appears that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing at One Main Development.


Also… “The name Big Grove would be "a nod" to the historic Big Grove area on Urbana's northeast side, Faullin said. Some of Urbana's earliest settlers lived on the southern edge of that stand of trees.”


“Big Grove Tavern” seems an odd choice for a Champaign restaurant name.  Referencing an historic area in the farthest away corner of a different, neighboring town? Why not call it the “Kaskaskia Pub & Grub” or something?

jim1 wrote on January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm

well its pretty intersting that jim goulds restaurant is gone I sure do not believe it was due to lack of ability on his part  I had the great fortune to work for gould 2 years when he was the GM of Jumers hotel in urbana he sure seemed to know how to run a business 1 year later the jumers chain declared bankrucpty erasing all the work that he and I did to make that hotel great again when things get bad financially unfortunally restaurants and other businesses and things you really do not have to have will be done without by the average Joe And to answer the readers question is it Obummers fault  yeah probably           he is the one who screwed up everything                                                                    sincerly                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jim  Snyder                                                                                                      

alabaster jones 71 wrote on January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm
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The president does not have as much control over the economy as people assume.  It wasn't Bush's fault when businesses closed in the area from 2000-08 and it isn't Obama's fault when they close now.  If you're going to be as shortsighted as to blame a branch of government for the failure of a business, at least have the good sense to blame the Illinois government.  They have consistently shown much less regard for small businesses than any regard presidential administration.

Joe American wrote on January 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Yippee!  Another bar!

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on January 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

/food/torture/gauntlet/garbage/capital/of/corrupt/illinois/shampoo/banana/land/noncreative/look/at/me/with/catsup/on/my/chin/from/polluted/sidewalk/gentrified/i/could/throwup/trying/to/talk/about/it/

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on January 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

How about

 Big Grove's  Olympian Roundabout Refried Saline Ditch Dregs?

alabaster jones 71 wrote on January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm
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I/don't/get/it

mspontiac wrote on January 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Not to sound negative, but anything with the word "tavern" in the name doesn't sound particularly appealing for food. I imagine greasy frozen pizza and fried chicken gizzards.

David Illinois wrote on January 27, 2012 at 8:01 am

Pretty sure the "investors" are the building owners who want to try to keep the space from being vacant....

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on January 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm

That is SOP for all the property owners around chamaign-urbana whose buildings are vacant.