It's Your Business: Rantoul cafe nears opening

Java Connection, a coffee shop/cafe in downtown Rantoul, plans to hold its grand opening May 24.

The venture is a project of First United Methodist Church of Rantoul, which plans to use any surplus proceeds for missions, said Mark Keyes, general manager of Java Connection.

The shop will roast its own coffee and serve soups, sandwiches, salads and paninis, he said.

Java Connection is at 109 E. Sangamon Ave., in a 150-year-old building that originally served as a hardware store and most recently housed Mediacom offices, Keyes said.

Though the building is old, the decor inside is "very modern," he said, noting it includes a fireplace, couches and leather furniture as well as tables.

The cafe has seating for about 60 on its first floor and mezzanine level, Keyes said.

Initially, hours will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Eventually, the cafe may extend those hours to include evenings and Sundays, he said.

Keyes said the project got rolling soon after the Rev. Carol Lakota-Eastin was appointed pastor of the church about four years ago. She hoped there would be an opportunity for outreach downtown. Soon after, the building at 109 E. Sangamon was donated to the church.

Discussions with young people at the church showed an interest in a coffee house, and Keyes had a background in food ... so the idea for Java Connection began to percolate, so to speak.

Keyes said the May 24 grand opening will be preceded by a soft opening.

Eventually, Java Connection plans to host live music. The building is equipped with Wi-Fi capability, and the cafe will have an app for ordering food and drink there.

Java Connection's phone number is 892-1770, and the website is http://www.gotojc.com.

English Hedgerow reshaped

English Hedgerow plans to close its retail store in Urbana by July, but will continue to operate as a weddings and events florist, according to owner Helen Philpott.

English Hedgerow has operated at 406 N. Lincoln Ave. — the southeast corner of Lincoln and University avenues — since 2000. It had a shop in Mahomet even earlier.

Philpott said the store is selling gift products — including handbags, candles and lotions — at 30 percent to 75 percent off as part of its "relocation sale."

Once the store closes, she plans to operate the floral business from a design studio in rural Mahomet. But the business won't make daily flower deliveries, instead concentrating on weddings and special events.

"That seems to be our forte," she said. "We'll focus on that and give it our full attention."

The phone number for English Hedgerow will remain 365-0055, and the website will continue to be http://www.englishhedgerow.com. Hours at the studio will be by appointment only.

"We made many, many friends here, and it will be sad not to see them," she said. "But we'll still provide flowers for local charitable events."

English Hedgerow has changed throughout the years. The Mahomet store opened in 1997 and remained in operation until 2002. For several years, Philpott's son, Oliver, operated a catering business and bistro from the Urbana site.

Rare coffees introduced

Beginning this month, Espresso Royale is introducing special and rare coffees from various parts of the world as part of its "Crop to Cup Gems" program.

The coffees come from farmers in remote parts of the world.

The coffee-shop chain will hold a tasting of the new Burundi Buhorwa variety from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday at its store at 1117 W. Oregon St., U, said Doug McCarver, the local operations/marketing manager.

Espresso is also introducing a Haitien de Mont Bleu variety. For each pound of that sold, Espresso Royale will donate $2 to Rainwatchers, a nonprofit group that builds sustainable rainwater collection systems in southeast Haiti.

Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Espresso Royale has coffee shops in Champaign-Urbana; Ann Arbor and East Lansing, Mich.; Madison, Wis.; Minneapolis-St. Paul; and Santa Barbara, Calif.

Its eight local shops are at: Champaign's Village at the Crossing; 1411 S. Neil St., C; 602 E. Daniel St., C; 1117 W. Oregon St., U; and inside four University of Illinois buildings — the Illini Union, the Undergraduate Library, Krannert Art Museum and the Business Instructional Facility.

Delcross to get new home

Delcross Technologies will move to the third floor of the M2 on Neil building in downtown Champaign in July.

Delcross, now located at 3015 Village Office Place, C, develops simulation software, provides engineering services and develops measurement systems for electromagnetic and radio frequency phenomena.

The company, headed by Matt Miller, will have about 3,700 square feet on the north end of the third floor, said Rebecca Motley, vice president of administration and special projects for One Main Development.

Delcross employs 16 at its offices in Champaign, Chicago and Minneapolis. The company was founded in 2006.

Rantoul business finds buyer

Jill Alred has been operating Jill's Creative Expressions in Rantoul for 22 years, but in early June, she plans to turn over the business to longtime employee John Moomaw.

Moomaw said he plans to keep the business at 101 E. Sangamon Ave. essentially the same — providing signs and engraving services and offering advertising specialties such as pens.

Moomaw said the business also does printing of business cards, envelopes and stationery and provides banners and storefront graphics.

He's a second-generation sign designer, following in the footsteps of his late father, Robert Moomaw.

Alred, who started the business in 1991 when Chanute Air Force Base was still operating, said she initially engraved a lot of medals. She bought the current location in 1995 and expanded into signs, banners and custom gifts.

Once the sale is complete, Alred said she plans to "take things easy" but will help out as needed.

The phone number for Jill's Creative Expressions remains 892-5555, and its website remains http://www.jills.biz.

Braggin' rights

Urbana's Black Dog Smoke & Ale House was touted as one of "America's Five Best BBQ Hot Spots" in a recent issue of Maxim magazine.

The writer, Quinn Myers, said Black Dog "does everything right" and raves over the restaurant's "burnt ends" of brisket, according to an item on the Fox News website.

Myers' other picks: Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas; The Joint in New Orleans; Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q in Atlanta; and Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue in Kansas City, Mo.

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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