It's Your Business: Italian restaurant on track to open this month

It's Your Business: Italian restaurant on track to open this month

Buca di Beppo should be open by the time you start post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping.

The Italian restaurant has a projected opening date of Nov. 26 in the space at Market Place Shopping Center formerly occupied by Pasta House.

"It looks like we'll be on track to open this month," said John Thall, senior vice president of business development for Buca di Beppo.

As of last week, kitchen equipment was being installed and the "memorabilia crew" was hanging decorative items and putting tables together, he said.

Buca di Beppo has begun its hiring process in Champaign, with expectations of employing 80 to 85 full- and part-time workers, Thall said.

By year's end, the chain will have nearly 100 restaurants across the nation and six more in other countries. Upwards of 20 new locations are expected to open next year.

"We hope people will come check us out while they're doing their holiday shopping," he added.

MedServ adds products

MedServ Equipment, the durable medical equipment supplier at 706 W. Bloomington Road, C, has added compression-therapy, bathroom-safety and seat-lift products to its merchandise mix.

Look for even more services next spring, said branch manager Don Beard.

In March, Palatine-based MedServ took over the store formerly operated by Achieve Mobility.

MedServ sells the same types of products that Achieve did — wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes and crutches.

Beard, who was also branch manager for Achieve, said MedServ is adding a customer service representative and a repair technician this fall.

Next spring, the business will begin doing home modification for ramps and selling stair glides and porch lifts, he said. The firm plans a grand opening next spring, he added.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and by appointment on weekends. The phone number remains 355-7971, and the website is

Dave Bashore, the owner and president of MedServ, opened the business 18 years ago. He said he hopes to bring even more services to Champaign down the road.

Here, Rover

If you're interested in prepaid cellphone service, you might investigate Rover Cellular, which opened Oct. 1 at 1809-B S. Philo Road, U.

The cellular store is in the plaza north of County Market, in the space just east of Curves for Women.

Manager Brandon Mecham said the store focuses on cellular plans, rather than phones.

Rover Cellular offers plans from T-Mobile and Simple Mobile, both of which run on the T-Mobile network; H2O Wireless and Net 10, both of which run on the AT&T network; and Total Call, which runs on the Sprint network, he said.

People with cellphones who are nearing the ends of their service contracts "can come in here and activate unlimited talk, text and Internet plans and shave a ridiculous amount of money off their monthly bill," he said.

Mecham said he tries to educate customers about the different service providers and the benefits of each. If customers need a device, he can order a phone for them or perhaps supply them with one in stock.

Rover Cellular also sells accessories such as chargers, cellphone cases, headphones and Bluetooth devices, he said.

It also offers services such as repairs, phone unlocking and software modification.

Rover Cellular is owned by Jim and Barbara Corley and managed by Mecham, who has worked in the cellphone field for seven years, most recently in Bloomington-Normal.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The phone number is 367-3663, and the website is

Ace is the (bigger) place

Mahomet Ace Hardware is expanding, taking over the adjacent space at Eastwood Center vacated by NAPA Auto Parts.

The auto parts store recently moved to another location in the shopping plaza.

Jim Hood, who co-owns Mahomet Ace Hardware and Hood's Ace Hardware in Gibson City with his wife Amy, said the wall between the hardware store and former auto parts store came down about six weeks ago.

As a result, Mahomet Ace Hardware grew from 8,800 square feet to 11,200 square feet and has the capacity to add 3,000 to 5,000 new items.

Once the remodeling is complete in mid-November, there will be room to display patio furniture, snow blowers and Weber grills, as well as other items, Hood said. There will also be more display space outside, thanks to remodeling in front.

"We want to have the finest small-town hardware store that it's possible to have in Mahomet," Hood said.

The Hoods bought the store in 2004 from longtime operators Ernie and Millie Rosenberg.

"We've been very appreciative of the community support we're received in Mahomet. That's one of the reasons for doubling down," Jim Hood said.

Hood said his parents, Ron and Mary Ann Hood, started the Gibson City store in 1956. Ron Hood, now 82, still works in the business and helped reset the Mahomet store, his son said.

Hours for the Mahomet Ace Hardware are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

The newest golden arches

The new McDonald's restaurant on Bloomington Road west of Prospect Avenue in Champaign opened for business at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Franchisee Dwight Miller said the new store employs about 80 and has seating capacity for 65.

The store is celebrating its opening by holding giveaways the next three weeks, with a drawing each Wednesday. Among the prizes: a 39-inch TV, a Samsung tablet, a $200 gas card good at the adjacent Mach 1 convenience store and medium fries every week for a year.

The restaurant is offering free coffee on Mondays for an indefinite period, Miller said.

Plus, this week, the restaurant is offering $2 specials on certain days: Big Macs on Monday, Quarter Pounders on Tuesday and 10-piece Chicken McNuggets on Wednesdays, he added.

Art Mart diversifies

Art Mart in Urbana's Lincoln Square Village continues to broaden its offerings.

It recently began carrying children's clothing at Art Mart Toys, said Brian McKay, who manages Art Mart with his wife, Courtney.

Children's clothing now takes up about a quarter of the Art Mart Toys space, he said. The clothing inventory is managed by Jennifer Newell, who was the owner of Bella Bambini.

Art Mart — located just inside the southern entrance to the mall — is also featuring some furniture from Furniture Lounge in downtown Champaign. Many of the items are teak, McKay said.

In another development, April Hyon has taken over as Art Mart's catering manager, arranging everything from weddings to boxed lunches to go.

On Monday, Art Mart will host a food and wine event to benefit CASA of Champaign County. The event, from 6 to 8 p.m., will include samplings of wine, beer, cheese, chocolates, foie gras, meats, olive oils and balsamics. Tickets are $35, with a portion of that benefiting CASA. Reservations can be made by calling the store.

Paul Simpson, formerly the wine buyer at Piccadilly, does the wine buying for Art Mart and also runs its Saturday wine tastings.

Open in St. Joseph

Furniture Lounge is opening up its warehouse at 225 E. Lincoln St. in St. Joseph to the public on the first Sunday of each month, starting today. Hours are noon to 4 p.m.

Its regular store, at 11 E. University Ave., C, is open every day of the week but Wednesday.

Short move for cheesecakes

Karen's Cheesecake Confections, which moved to the Senator's Inn in Savoy in August, has relocated within that building.

The business has moved across the hall and is now located inside Essential Healing Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, according to Karen Mikle, who runs the gourmet mini-cheesecake business.

Beginning this week, the hours for Karen's Cheesecake Confections will be noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. However, orders can be picked up until 5 p.m. any day, Mikle said.

The Senator's Inn building is at 801 N. Dunlap Ave., Savoy.

Tire Barn to get new owners

Tire Barn Warehouse, which has a store in Champaign at 806 W. Bloomington Road, has decided to sell most of its assets to Monro Muffler Brake.

"Monro will keep the Tire Barn brand as they have kept only the best brands of the 20 tire chains they have acquired over the past several years," said Tire Barn CEO Christopher Jones in a release.

"There will be no change in basic store operations and very little change in store personnel," he added.

Tire Barn has 31 locations across Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. The Anderson, Ind.-based company got its start in Anderson and Kokomo, Ind., during the early 1920s. Originally it was in the petroleum distribution business and at one time was known as Everybody's Oil Corp.

Monro, which is headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., has more than 850 stores in the United States. The sale is expected to close on Nov. 19.

In announcing the sale, Jones expressed gratitude to Tire Barn's employees.

"I cannot thank our employees enough for their service to my family over the years," Jones said. "The continued support of our employees and customers is what has kept us going the past 83 years."

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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