It's Your Business: A craft brewery for Mahomet

It's Your Business: A craft brewery for Mahomet

Mahomet may have a craft brewery on the way.

Champaign County Brewing Co. hopes to open sometime early next year at 402 E. Main St. — across the street from JT Walker's Restaurant & Sports Bar.

Justin Taylor, owner of JT Walker's, said the brewery would be owned by his parents, Nick and Renee Taylor, and the head brewer, Aaron Young.

The company is still seeking federal and state brewing licenses. But it has pinned down its eventual home — the building that formerly housed Simplified Computers' Mahomet office.

Justin Taylor said he hopes to sell some of the beers made by the brewery at his restaurant — either as draft beer to be consumed on premises or in growlers or kegs to go.

The brewery is also expected to contact other bars throughout the area to see whether they're interested in serving Champaign County Brewing Co.'s products.

Young, the brewer, has worked as a manager and head bartender for JT Walker's since it opened in July 2008, Taylor said.

The brewery is expected to have five flagship beers, with "plans to make anywhere from 10 to 20 beers throughout the year on rotation," Taylor said.

The five flagship beers, according to Taylor, include an India pale ale ("a little more hoppy"), a Belgian witbier (a wheat beer "with blueberries"), a brown ale ("a roasted malt flavor"), a ginger saison ("an ale big among farmers in Belgium ... lighter and refreshing") and a Scotch ale (emphasizing malt, rather than hops).

As for JT Walker's, look for a few changes, probably by year's end. Taylor said the name will likely change from JT Walker's Restaurant & Sports Bar to JT Walker's Restaurant & Brewery — to reflect the JT Walker's brand the restaurant hopes to be selling.

"With the new year, we'll be coming up with a new food menu," Taylor added. It will likely feature beer-battered items as well as beer-cheese soup.

There's already one new twist to the restaurant: a rooftop patio that has been open about a month, Taylor said.

The other campaign

So much for Obama vs. Romney.

Kylene Gilbert of Champaign, Jaimee Gleisner of Urbana and Robyn Stone of Tuscola are devoting their time to a different campaign: getting Trader Joe's to open a store in central Illinois.

Trader Joe's is a specialty grocery chain, with more than 370 locations in 34 states. The closest stores to Champaign-Urbana include two in the Indianapolis area, 18 in the Chicago area and four in the St. Louis area.

The Monrovia, Calif.-based company dates back to 1958, and began using the Trader Joe's name in 1967. It came to the Midwest in 2000, when it opened a couple stores in the Chicago area.

Gilbert said the campaign to get a local Trader Joe's started by urging local enthusiasts to send emails to the company.

Next came a petition drive, which so far has amassed more than 2,200 names.

Since then, the organizers have added a blog and a Twitter feed devoted to the cause.

Now they're enlisting local developers to submit proposals — all of which are expected to be delivered to Trader Joe's later this fall, Gilbert said.

Gilbert said she has already received proposals from The Atkins Group for The Pines shopping center in southeast Urbana and from architect/developer Gary Olsen for his proposed Metro Centre project on Vine Street in downtown Urbana.

She said she also expects to receive one from Fox Development for its proposed retail center at First Street and Windsor Road in south Champaign.

Gilbert thinks the time is right for Trader Joe's to come to Champaign-Urbana.

"Trader Joe's is opening for the first time in a college town similar to ours — State College, Pa.," she said. "The fact that they're willing to open in a town similar to Champaign-Urbana is very encouraging."

The women have also been in contact with other communities successful in bringing Trader Joe's to their towns.

Alison Mochizuki, director of public relations for Trader Joe's, said Thursday that Champaign-Urbana is not included in the company's plan for new stores in 2013 and 2014 "at this time."

Gilbert, who once lived in California and shopped at the original Trader Joe's, said she believes the chain provides a wide selection of "healthy, wholesome foods" at an affordable price.

"We have very good local healthy food stores, Strawberry Fields and Common Ground (Food Co-Op)," she said. "I like those places and shop there, but I can't afford to do the vast majority of my shopping there."

Specifically, she praised Trader Joe's for its selection of cereals, dairy items and gluten-free products; and for carrying baking mixes without preservatives, salad dressings without monosodium glutamate and coffee "that doesn't cost an arm and a leg."

Gilbert said she understands people who think Trader Joe's will hurt their businesses. But she said the fact that 2,200 people have signed the petition shows the need for a chain like Trader Joe's.

Now that the University of Illinois school year is under way, the women have been in contact with several registered student organizations on campus to try to get more student names on their petition.

They're also hoping to get letters of support from local mayors, Gilbert said.

For more information about the Trader Joe's campaign, check their blog — It has links to the petition as well.

Danville firm's contest

Got an ugly room?

Consider entering it in North Street Sweet Repeats' "Ugliest Room Contest" in hopes of winning a makeover.

North Street Sweet Repeats, a furniture and home decor consignment shop that opened at 23 W. North St. in Danville this summer, is teaming with the Lowe's store in Danville for the contest.

"Just provide a picture of your room, along with a letter as to why we should choose your room to makeover," Sweet Repeats owner Cheri Cirasuolo said in a news release.

Entries will be accepted through Oct. 31, so you have plenty of time to uglify your room, if it's not already in that shape. The winner will be announced Nov. 3.

Sweet Repeats and its in-house designers will come up with a transformation of the room. They'll repurpose existing furniture, and Lowe's will provide flooring, paint and lighting needed for the project, according to the release.

Sweet Repeats will also find other furnishings that might be needed — but those furnishings would be added at the winner's own expense.

Homeowners will have "hands-on participation" in the process, but after consulting with the winner, Sweet Repeats and its designers will have creative control of the project, the release said.

You can either bring your photo and letter to the store, or mail it to Sweet Repeats, 23 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832.

Jimmy John's coming

It's been 10 months since the Village Inn Pizza Parlor vacated its longtime home at Mattis and Springfield avenues in Champaign to relocate on High Cross Road in Urbana.

Now the city of Champaign has approved a building permit for the front portion of the old Village Inn space at 1801 W. Springfield Ave., C.

The applicant and designated tenant: Jimmy John's Enterprises, famous for its chain of gourmet sandwich shops.

The permit is for $105,000 worth of work.

Inquiries made to the Jimmy John's office in Champaign were referred to a Chicago-based spokeswoman at the company's public relations firm. The spokeswoman, Mary Trader, said Jimmy John's has no comment, "but I'm sure, in the coming months, there will be some news to share."

Pizza Hut update

NPC International, the world's largest Pizza Hut franchisee, has released a few more details about the Pizza Hut carryout and delivery store coming to Savoy Plaza.

Bob Kralicek, NPC's director of real estate, recently told The News-Gazette it looks like the opening will come in early October.

Hours are expected to be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. He said the store is expected to have about 20 employees.

In a release, the restaurant's general manager, Brad Patton, said the store will carry all Pizza Hut favorites, including pizza, baked Tuscani Pastas and made-to-order WingStreet wings hand-tossed in eight signature sauces.

The phone number for the new store at 1317 Savoy Plaza Lane will be 352-2587.

Pizza Hut has nearly 10,000 restaurants in more than 90 countries, and franchisee NPC International operates about 1,180 Pizza Hut locations.

Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at; 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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mmemartinez wrote on September 16, 2012 at 10:09 pm

If C-U can support what feels like 20 million jimmy john's shops, I bet we can give Trader Joe's enough business. Please please please come to C-U TJ's!