A new cheese shop and deli has opened in the Old Farm Shops in Champaign.
Cheese and Crackers stocks a wide variety of cheeses for a variety of different tastes. Not only does the store carry 10 blue cheeses to choose from for your blue-cheese-topped filet, it also plans to stock up on those squeaky cheese curds.
"We want to share our love of good food with the community," said Mindy Basi. The store is the brainchild of Mindy and her husband, Bart Basi. Their son, Bart Basi IV, also helps out.
The store's cheesemonger and manager is Ty Southerd, who previously worked at Euro Mart in Champaign.
More than 20 years ago, Bart Basi worked in the restaurant business, but he ended up building a career in software sales. His job has involved travel, and over the years his family has traveled with him on adventures where they've sampled all sorts of good food.
When the space became available in Old Farm Shops (it was previously home to Casbah, which specialized in halal meats, and before that Elliott's Meats), and Southerd became available, they decided to open the shop, Bart Basi said. He plans to keep his day job.
They're focusing on offering a wide variety of cheeses, Mindy Basi said.
Super soft cheeses? They've got them. Hard cheeses? Yes. And the store is not all about French cheeses.
Squeaky cheese curds? They'll be coming soon, too. And they sell vegetarian cheeses (ones made without animal-based rennet).
"We want to be able to talk to customers about how to use the product, how to pair it," she said.
Their cured and aged meat section includes prosciuttos and salamis, with more to come. Specialty chocolates include those from Cocopotamus, Neo Cocoa and more.
The store also has a small selection of butter, hummus and other spreads. Olives and dates (and goat cheese-filled dates) are for sale. The store also carries crackers, fresh bread from Pekara bakery in Champaign and will cater cheese plates. Basi said the owners hope to offer carryout items like sandwiches in the future.
Cheese and Crackers is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. It can be reached at 615-8531 and http://www.mycheeseandcrackers.com. Tastings will be held on Saturdays.
Hollywood Video closing
The Hollywood Video store at 512 S. Neil St., C, is closing. Its parent company, Movie Gallery, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month and has been in the process of closing Hollywood Video, Game Crazy and Movie Gallery stores across the country.
Many other Hollywood Video stores in Illinois are among those slated for closure. They include stores in Decatur, Lincoln, Pana, Springfield and Pekin.
Champaign store manager Scott Taylor said he did not know yet when the store will close for good. Until then, it is selling videos and games, with discounts becoming more steep as time goes by. The Game Crazy store inside the space is also closing, he said.
James Winston has opened a barbershop, Service Barber Service, at 1104 E. Washington St., U. The barbershop opened at the end of February in the building that used to be home to a bead shop.
Winston has been a barber in the area for more than 30 years and has always wanted to have his own barbershop, he said. He offers hot towel shaves, traditional cuts and styling. He said he wanted to offer affordable services to his customers and work with men of all races.
"I don't want to be known as a black barber, or the white barber or the Hispanic barber. I'm a barbershop, and if you've got hair on your head, we can service you. It's like a melting pot here," he said.
Barbershops, he said, "are small community centers. I love the interaction with the neighborhood and want to promote this social interaction, especially among men and young men."
The hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Mondays are by appointment. The shop can be reached at 344-5151.
The grand opening celebration for Shared Space, the artist co-op shop in downtown Urbana, will be 3 to 5 p.m. April 9.
The store, which opened recently at 123 W. Main St., sells the creations of local artists.
"We'll range from crafts to fine arts," said Mete Sarabi, one of the members.
Items for sale include photography, jewelry, glassware and a variety of other decorative items. In the future, the co-op will offer some studio and classroom space.
"We're trying to make it a community arts center," Sarabi said.
The shop is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Marble Slab Creamery in the Savoy Plaza, 1211 Savoy Plaza Lane, has changed to its warmer-weather hours.
It's now open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays.
Christine des Garennes can be reached by phone at 351-5388 or 800-252-3346; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.