Minneci's Ristorante plans to open a second location at Champaign's Village at the Crossing as soon as the first week of September, owner Rob Meister said.
The original restaurant, at the northwest corner of First Street and Springfield Avenue in Champaign, will continue to operate, Meister said.
The new location is at 2501 Village Green Place in the space formerly occupied by Uncle Jack's Family Restaurant.
Meister, who has owned Minneci's for five years, said the time seemed right for a location in southwest Champaign.
"It was easy for our parking lot to get chock-full and the restaurant to handle as much as it can," he said.
Meister said he and Mary Minneci developed a new menu after reviewing the 20 best-selling items at First and Springfield. They also included some specials as regular menu items.
Minneci rejoined the restaurant this summer.
"She's been helpful in keeping true to some of the old recipes for sauces and soups," Meister said. "Plus, she's creating a new dinner special each week."
Minneci's Ristorante at the Crossing will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and will employ 25 to 35 people.
Meister said his girlfriend, Charlotte Miles, a longtime employee at Minneci's, will manage the original restaurant while he spends six months to a year managing the new place.
After that, he plans to hire a separate manager for the Crossing location and divide his time between the two places.
"I want to be able to see the people and give personal attention to customers," he said.
Meister said the new space can accommodate 170, but he plans to set it up for 120 at the outset and expand capacity down the road.
Meister does plan to change up the seating from Uncle Jack's, creating some "intimate spots around the restaurant" but also keeping spaces for serving large groups.
Eventually, he said, he would like to duplicate the outdoor patio from First and Springfield at the Crossing location.
Until recently, Meister co-owned Minneci's with his cousin, Jim Bier. But Meister said he has been sole owner since Bier left in June.
New Rue for you
Rue 21, which sells fashions and accessories for young men and women, plans to open a store in part of the former Fashion Bug space in Champaign's Market Place Plaza.
The store, which has 961 locations in 47 states, will take 6,025 square feet next to Hancock Fabrics, according to Dennis Robertson, general manager of Market Place Shopping Center.
"They are beginning construction and plan to be open by Nov. 1," Robertson said.
Discussions are underway with potential tenants for the remaining Fashion Bug space.
Market Place Plaza, at 1901 N. Market St., is the shopping center southeast of Market Place Mall that includes Gordmans and Dress Barn among its principal tenants.
Rue 21 already has a store at the Tanger Outlet Center in Tuscola, as well as stores in Mattoon, Bloomington, Forsyth, Springfield, Jacksonville, Pekin and Peoria.
Carrie's shrinks; Monkey expands
Carrie's Fabulous to Funky is scaling back in downtown Champaign, and Cowboy Monkey is getting larger.
Carrie Homann, who has operated Carrie's at 202-204 N. Neil St. for more than two decades, said she's downsizing and will occupy only the northern half of her 2,800-square-foot space.
Homann said she sold the building in December to Carlos and Marco Nieto. Now the building is about to be remodeled.
Carlos Nieto said he plans to expand Cowboy Monkey — located just to the east at 6 E. Taylor St. — into the space at 202 N. Neil St.
That area will house Cowboy Monkey's dining area, providing more room for live entertainment in the Taylor Street building.
It also will allow the Cowboy Monkey to extend its outside dining space farther west.
Nieto said he hopes the spaces can be converted by the end of the year.
Meanwhile at Carrie's, Homann said the Neil Street store will concentrate primarily on vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories as well as liquor decanters and gift items.
"I'm not going to handle so much glassware, pottery and knickknacks," Homann said.
She said she plans to remain open during construction, with merchandise priced 20 percent off.
In the meantime, Homann has taken half a room at Crossroads Corner Consignment, 723 S. Neil St., C, and is selling cards, record players, vintage furniture and stained-glass lamps there.
She also has taken six spaces at Antiques & More, 606 S. Staley Road, C, and is selling antiques, glassware, wood primitives and furniture there.
Sweets on wheels
What's better than an old-fashioned ice cream truck? How about a fresh baked-goods truck?
That was Julie and Tim Arie's thinking as they prepared to launch their new mobile baked-goods business, Sweetie Sweets.
They plan to debut their truck — painted to resemble a pink bakery box — at Urbana's Market at the Square on Saturday at Lincoln Square Village.
They'll be selling chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, lava brownies and four kinds of cookies: sugar, chocolate chip, oatmeal and chocolate chip toffee. Julie Arie said she hopes to add tarts and pies in the fall.
Arie, who once had a cookie business in Los Angeles, said her baked goods aren't intended to be fancy, but to remind folks of goodies from Mom's kitchen. She said the items are baked fresh each day at a kitchen in Savoy.
Sweetie Sweets plans to operate only on weekends, primarily at festivals and farmers' markets but also around town. The business will take orders and deliver, she said.
The phone number for Bondville-based Sweetie Sweets is 863-2423. Arie said she plans to communicate the truck's whereabouts using Twitter and Facebook.
Besides operating the baked-goods business, Arie said she also does freelance work for the Emmy Awards broadcast, seeking permission for the show to use video clips, including those of performers who died during the year.
New boutique in St. Joe
Geschenk Boutique has opened in St. Joseph.
The shop, at 228 E. Lincoln St., carries artist creations such as greeting cards, aprons, bibs, jewelry, dishcloths and bath products.
Kathy Lyons of Homer, who owns the shop with her husband Kyle, said the shop also sells chocolates, handbags and accessories, area-grown lavender and indoor mini-golf games.
"We carry items perfect for bridal and baby showers and also our own line of premium teas," Lyons said.
"One of our latest additions is a candle buffet, where you can create your own candle with a mix of fragrances and colors," she said.
As for the name Geschenk, no one sneezed. The word is German for "gift," Lyons said.
Store hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Its phone number is 469-6034. The shop plans to have an online presence at http://www.shopgeschenk.com and already has a Facebook page.
Who moved my Icing?
Icing, a boutique selling jewelry and accessories for teens and adults, has begun remodeling its space in the Macy's wing of Champaign's Market Place Mall, with hopes of reopening there in October.
In the meantime, it's operating from a nearby space closer to Macy's, said acting manager Kelly Hills.
Icing — which was located next to the Sleep Number store — moved to the temporary space between Millennium Nails and Best Buy Mobile last week.
Icing is one of a brand of Claire's Stores Inc., which operates more than 3,000 Claire's stores.
While Claire's focuses on girls ages 3 to 18, Icing targets women 18 to 35, with a particular focus on 21- to 25-year-olds who have just entered the workforce, according to the company's website.
Second site for Staske
Staske Photography has opened a second location — at 313 S. Staley Road, Suite B, in Champaign.
Roberta Staske, who owns the professional portrait studio with her husband Paul, said they opened the Champaign location after learning 85 percent of people do their shopping within 5 miles of home. The new location will give the Staskes greater capability to serve southwest Champaign.
Staske Photography's other location — at 557 County Road 2425 N — is northeast of Mahomet, about 3-1/2 miles north of Interstate 74.
The Staskes will continue to operate there, but they'll also provide consultations, portrait sessions, portrait viewing, ordering and pickup services at the Staley Road site.
Both locations are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and other times by appointment. Both sites use the same phone number, 586-1500.
Concrete firm relocates
Mid-Illinois Concrete & Excavation has moved to 1207 E. University Ave., U, the former location of Advanced Wayne Cain & Sons Roofing and Sheet Metal.
President Kevin Modglin said the company occupies about 7,000 square feet there — including the office building and half the warehouse.
Modglin said Mid-Illinois Concrete moved Aug. 1 from its former location at 1802 N. Cunningham Ave., U, where it rented space from United Fuel.
The concrete company started in 2011 but eventually outgrew its space. Modglin said it has seven permanent employees and about 33 seasonal workers.
Mid-Illinois Concrete does concrete and excavation work primarily for commercial and industrial customers. Its projects include foundations, floor slabs and driveways. The phone number remains 366-3444, and its website is http://www.midilconcrete.com.
Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email 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.