It's Your Business: Shops shuffling at Old Farm

There's a bit of shuffling at the Old Farm Shops at Mattis and Kirby avenues in Champaign.

Checkered Moon will soon move into 3,000 square feet that became available when Talbots shrank its store space.

Sharon Crow, owner of Checkered Moon, said she hopes to be up and running at the new location, 1721 W. Kirby Ave., by May 1.

Now in its 12th year, Checkered Moon offers gifts and items for the home, as well as clothing for women, children and babies.

Crow had offered interior design services at Room Service by Checkered Moon in a separate location at Old Farm.

But with the move, those services will be consolidated in the new Checkered Moon store, she said.

Hours for Checkered Moon will remain the same: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The phone number will still be 403-0263.

Frozen yogurt to return to Old Farm

Todd Thorstenson plans to open a TCBY frozen-yogurt shop in the space being vacated by Checkered Moon.

Thorstenson said the shop, at 1731 W. Kirby Ave., C, probably won't open until June or July.

The shop will have a self-serve concept, with six machines each having two flavors and a swirl option, for a total of 18 flavors.

Customers will fill a cup with their choice of frozen yogurt, then go to a toppings bar with 30 toppings on it. Once they've completed their creation, they'll pay by the ounce.

"I think it's a great location," Thorstenston said, noting the store will be near several schools and Sholem Pool.

Nationally, TCBY — which stands for The Country's Best Yogurt — has more than 425 locations. Since 2000, it's been part of Mrs. Fields Famous Brands.

Thorstenson said the local store will have seats for about 50, plus outdoor seating.

Thorstenson already has several other enterprises. He's co-owner of Boltini Lounge with Jon "Cody" Sokolski; he publishes The Real Estate Book locally; and he operates TLT Properties, an apartment business with about 100 units.

Alterations business on way

Dan Hamelberg, who owns Old Farm Shops, said an alterations shop is expected to open in the space that will be vacated by Room Service by Checkered Moon.

Bridal and Formal Wear Alterations by Azar has leased the space at 1705 W. Kirby Ave., C, he said.

It will be owned by Azarmidokht Hamidian and her husband, Hadi Rangin.

Rangin said his wife has worked at bridal shops in Portland, Ore., and locally. He said she wants brides to be comfortable in their gowns.

In addition to making alterations to bridal and formal wear, Hamidian is considering carrying accessories that go with wedding gowns, Rangin said.

The store is planning a grand opening around May 19, he added.

Hours for the store are expected to be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, he said.

In another development at Old Farm Shops, Modern Nail Salon at 1711 W. Kirby Ave., C, is expanding into the adjacent space formerly occupied by Hairtastics, Hamelberg said.

I Wok opens in Savoy

A new Chinese restaurant has opened in Savoy, and it's attracting walk-in traffic from Savoy neighborhoods and delivery orders from both Tolono and Savoy.

I Wok opened at 113 Calvin St. — just west of Mobil Super Pantry and next door to Goodwill Donation Express — on April 13.

The restaurant is operated by Michael "Max" Lin, his wife Yuying Lin and his father, Dianyou Lin.

The Lins are originally from China's Fujian province, and Max Lin said he has worked 15 years in the restaurant business — five in New York, five in Bloomington, and five in the Champaign-Urbana area.

I Wok has lunch specials for $5.95, special combination plates for $7.18 and a selection of dishes for dieters. Lin said the restaurant uses no monosodium glutamate (MSG) in its dishes.

The restaurant has seating for 20, and Lin said delivery is available in Savoy and Tolono, with a $10 minimum order. The phone number is 351-9888.

Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sundays.

Jo-Ann sets grand opening

The grand opening for the new Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store at 722 W. Town Center Blvd., C, will be April 26-28, with doors opening at 9 a.m. each day.

Three $100 Jo-Ann gift cards will be awarded each day, and the first 100 guests each day will receive a $10 gift card.

On Saturday, teachers will receive 20 percent off their total purchase, with a current teacher ID.

Creative demonstrations start at 11 a.m. each day, and a class open house will be offered from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, kids can make their own craft to take home.

In conjunction with the grand opening, a $2,000 grant will be given to an area school to pay for an educational project of its choosing, according to a release from the company.

Going natural

Ralph Monical, owner of Zelma's in Champaign and Roma Ralph's in LeRoy, reports both restaurants have started using all-natural mozzarella cheese — rather than mozzarella with preservatives — on pizzas.

The change took place in late March, he said.

Free burritos and a graduation contest

On May 1, Pancheros Mexican Grill, at 102 E. University Ave., U, will give a free burrito to anyone named Bob — or any variation of Bob.

"Bob The Tool" is the name Pancheros has given to the mixing mechanism that blends ingredients together before they are wrapped into a tortilla at the restaurant.

Meanwhile, O'Charley's, which has a restaurant at 730 W. Town Center Blvd., C, is holding a "Greatest Grad Contest."

Through May 18, people can nominate anyone who will graduate this year from any educational program. The nomination — which can be made at O'Charley's website or Facebook page — must include a brief essay on why the graduate deserves a special celebration courtesy of O'Charley's.

At the end of the contest, 12 winners will be selected for special celebrations. A grand prize winner will be selected by the public to win an Apple iPad.

Are you opening a new business or changing an existing one? Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at dodson@news-gazette.com; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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