It's Your Business: Popeye's coming to town

Several readers have asked over the past year whether Popeye's will come to Champaign-Urbana.

The answer is yes — and soon.

Rick Walimohammad, the Popeye's franchisee in Springfield, said he and his wife Susan plan to build a Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen just west of the McDonald's on Bloomington Road in Champaign.

Construction is expected to start Monday, with the opening tentatively slated for mid-December, Walimohammad said.

The chain was once known as Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits, but changed its name to Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen a few years ago, he said.

Most of the food is Cajun-inspired, but the restaurant also serves mild food that's not spicy, he said.

The menu includes bone-in chicken, chicken strips, popcorn shrimp and chicken po' boys, with side orders of red beans and rice, Cajun rice, mashed potatoes, fries, coleslaw and corn-on-the-cob. Popeye's "signature" item is chicken-and-sausage jambalaya, he said.

The Walimohammads have operated Popeye's restaurants for 23 years and have five stores in central Illinois — two in Springfield, two in Bloomington and one in Peoria.

"We've been looking for a location (in Champaign-Urbana) for a long, long time and couldn't find one," Rick Walimohammad said. "Finally this opportunity came, and we jumped on it. There's enough traffic there — it's close to the expressway, with lots of restaurants and shopping nearby."

Popeye's will be at 910 W. Bloomington Road, C, between McDonald's and the Thara Thai restaurant. The 2,900-square-foot building will have a drive-through and will accommodate 60 customers inside.

The restaurant will likely employ 25 to 35 people long-term, but will need more than that when it first opens, he said.

"We will be hiring sometime in November, probably the second or third week," he said.

Walimohammad said it's possible his business, Springfest Co., will open a second restaurant in the area.

"We usually like to wait a year or so to see how the first store is doing," he said.

Longtime Popeye's buffs may remember Popeye's Famous Fried Chicken and Biscuits once had two stores in Champaign-Urbana — one at 1102 W. University Ave., U, (now the home of Hot Wok Express) and the other at 1502 N. Prospect Ave., C (now the site of Arby's).

Those Popeye's, open from 1986 to 1990, were operated by a different franchisee.

Hanging in or hanging it up?

Ginny Gluege, owner of The Wooden Hanger store in downtown Urbana, said she plans to close it, probably in October or November.

But she's hoping someone will want to buy the contemporary women's clothing store and continue to operate it.

"That would be awesome," Gluege said. "The store has a loyal following."

Gluege opened The Wooden Hanger at the southeast corner of Race and Main streets in 2009.

Signs for a "moving sale" went up in August.

"I'm closing this location and moving to Madison (Wis.)," Gluege explained. "I've had back issues, and it's just gotten to the point that I can't operate the store the way it should be."

The Wooden Hanger has been open only three days a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. — and Gluege said it should be open more often. But road construction in downtown Urbana and "slow business" contributed to the reduced hours.

Gluege said she's in no hurry to close the store since her lease runs until July. She's guessing she'll have merchandise through September and will "tie up loose ends in October or November."

If someone's interested in buying the business, Gluege said she could offer a year of consulting to show how the business runs and how and where to do the buying. She said she would also consider renting the space at 135 W. Main St., C, to someone who wants to use it for another purpose.

The Wooden Hanger's phone number is 384-6009.

Grand opening at Crossing

Minneci's at the Crossing, one of the newest occupants of Village at the Crossing in southwest Champaign, has slated its grand opening for 11 a.m. Sept. 16.

Reservations won't be taken that day, but can be made for Sept. 17 and afterward.

Pianist Donnie Heitler will perform at the restaurant from 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays, and a Sunday brunch buffet is "coming soon," according to a release from the restaurant.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The phone number for the new location at 2501 Village Green Place, C, is 366-9222. The website is http://www.minnecisristorante.com.

The original Minneci's, at 401 S. First St., C — now called Minneci's Traditionale — is now open from 4 to 9:30 p.m. nightly, according to the website.

A Dollar Tree grows in Urbana

Look for Dollar Tree to open in the former True Value Hardware building at 1303 E. Colorado Ave., U. Dollar Tree spokeswoman Shelle Davis said the store is tentatively slated to open in early November and occupy about 10,000 square feet of the 17,000-square-foot building. The store is expected to employ 12 to 15 part-time associates as well as a full-time manager and seasonal workers, Davis said. Key merchandise includes health and beauty products, food and snacks, party supplies and seasonal goods. Dollar Tree already has stores at 2009 N. Prospect Ave., C, and at 1333 Savoy Plaza Lane, Savoy. It has other area stores in Rantoul, Danville, Mattoon and Charleston. The Chesapeake, Va.-based company operates about 4,800 stores in 48 states and five Canadian provinces. Apricot Lane nearly ripe

The Apricot Lane Boutique store in Champaign's Campustown plans to open its doors Sept. 19.

The store, in part of the former Follett's building at Wright and Green streets, will carry clothes for both mothers and daughters — with this store handling a lot of apparel for collegiate women.

The store will be owned and operated by Renee Dixon and her daughter, Jena Green, who already have stores in Peoria and Normal.

As part of the grand opening, the first 30 people to spend $250 or more will receive a VIP gift bag with their purchase. From Sept. 19 to Sept. 22, shoppers can register for give-aways, with no purchase necessary.

The Champaign store will employ more than 15, including five University of Illinois graduates, according to a release from the business.

Hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Electronics recycling

Good Vibes and Com2 Recycling Solutions are hosting a free electronics recycling event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Good Vibes, 1501 N. Prospect Ave., C.

Televisions, stereos, computers, microwave ovens and almost "anything with a cord" can be dropped off during those hours, a release from the store said. There are a few exceptions, namely major appliances, such as washers and dryers.

Early drop-offs will be accepted until 6 p.m. Friday at the parking lot on Francis Drive.

The e-waste collection will be set up as a drive-through, drop-off event, with staff on hand to collect items from vehicles.

For more information, check http://www.gvibes.com or http://www.com2computer.com, or call Good Vibes, 351-0909, or Com2 at 345-3905.

New place to find Fetch!

Fetch! Pet Care recently moved to 1100 W. Bloomington Road, C.

Lauren Morenz is the local franchisee for Fetch!, a franchisor of professional pet sitting and dog walking services. She worked for the local franchise, then took it over when the original franchisee, Kristen Duffy, went to law school. According to Fetch!, the local franchise has 747 clients, two full-time employees, three part-time employees and 18 independent contractors.

Morenz and Duffy also opened Pet Stop LLC to expand their scope of services to include pet massages, pet supply inventory and dog occupational therapy.

The business also provides private dog training services, and Morenz and Duffy hope to expand to group training options next year.

Morenz can be reached at 903-5003 or by email at cufetchpetcare@gmail.com.

Community Days set

The Bergner's store in Champaign and the Carson's stores in Danville and Mattoon have scheduled their semi-annual "Community Days" fund-raising event for Nov. 15-16.

On those days, local charitable organizations will sell coupon booklets at store entrances. The booklet can be purchased for $5, with participating organizations keeping 100 percent of the proceeds.

The booklet contains more than $500 in savings on in-store and online merchandise. Included in the booklet is a 25-percent-off shopping pass to the stores. There's also a coupon for $10 off on a purchase of $10 or more.

Schools and nonprofit organizations wanting to participate can sign up at http://www.communitydayevent.com.

Donors can also buy a savings booklet online at that same website and direct the donation to the participating organization of their choice. The company will mail booklets to donors free of charge.

Bergner's and Carson's are part of Bon-Ton Stores Inc., which operates 270 department stores in 24 states.

Match made in Mattoon

Advanced Disposal, based in Ponte Vedra, Fla., has acquired Mattoon-based Matchbox Disposal.

That includes four roll-off routes in Mattoon, which will now be serviced from Advanced Disposal hauling locations in Charleston and Decatur.

The solid waste will be taken to Valley View Landfill in Decatur.

Advanced Disposal provides solid waste collection, recycling and disposal service to residential, commercial, industrial and construction customers in 18 states.

The acquisition was Advanced's fifth in the Midwest Region this year.

All sorts of services

Teri Pfau has started Simple Solutions, a professional organizing business that offers decluttering, downsizing and transitioning services, packing and unpacking for moves, home decor consultations, clean-out and set-up for garage and estate sales, holiday decorating and other services.

Pfau can be reached at 621-8253.

Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346, at dodson@news-gazette.com or at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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