It's Your Business: Game store opens in Champaign

It's Your Business: Game store opens in Champaign

A new game store, The Gaming Goat, has opened in the Whiteline building at 723 S. Neil St., C, that also houses El Toro Mexican Restaurant.

The store, owned by Mark Keplinger and Joshua Sawlaw, carries board games, collectible card games and role-playing games, Keplinger said.

The Gaming Goat occupies 1,700 square feet on the building's northwest side. To enter, use the doorway on the west side of the building, off the Whiteline parking lot.

Both owners went to Augustana College and to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where they received medical degrees.

Sawlaw, 30, who grew up in Mahomet and lives in Monticello, is a family practice physician with Kirby Medical Group in Monticello.

Keplinger, 32, is originally from Geneseo. He plans to become a family practitioner and is operating the store before beginning a residency.

Both have played board games, role-playing games, video games and collectible card games during the decade or so they've known each other.

Now they're the latest franchisees of The Gaming Goat, which operates several stores in the greater Chicago area.

"Our business model revolves around providing a friendly gaming environment while marketing our games to the audience that comes to play," Sawlaw said.

The store hosts not only casual board games, but also tournaments in major collectible card games, with prizes, he added.

Wednesday night, for example, is board game night, Keplinger said. One popular game, Magic: The Gathering, is played on Friday nights, and another, Yu-Gi-Oh!, is played on Sunday afternoons.

The Gaming Goat had its "soft opening" Sept. 6. Hours are 1 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 1 to 11 p.m. Fridays and noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Sawlaw said the location was ideal because it's close to bus lines, near campus and offers "great aesthetics at an affordable price."

"It's a lot nicer than the game stores where we hung out when we were younger," Keplinger said.

Plus, Sawlaw said, "being next to amazing Mexican food is also a plus for our customers — especially in the winter, when they won't even have to leave the building to get something to eat."

The Gaming Goat's phone number, for now, is 309-781-6427. The Facebook page is

More fun and games ...

On Saturday,Armored Gopher Games had a ribbon-cutting for its recently expanded store at 1508 N. Cunningham Ave., U.

The store sells hobby gaming materials for Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, in addition to Euro-style games such as Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. It also carries miniatures, acrylic paints for models, dice, role playing games and family and party card games.

Armored Gopher Games is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Comeback in Champaign

Look for Amano's Pizza to open in the former Gumby's Pizza location at 1407 S. Neil St., C — probably before the end of this month.

You may recall that Amano's Pizza operated from 2018 S. Philo Road, U, from 2008 through 2011.

Now owner Ayhan Ozhayta is bringing back Amano's — and its Chicago-style pizza — at a new location.

"It's much more centralized, closer to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus and to Savoy," Ozhayta said.

Amano's — which will serve pizza, pasta and sandwiches — plans to offer carry-out and delivery service since "there's no room for dine-in," he said.

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, with delivery starting at 4 p.m.

The restaurant will offer thin-crust slices from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday to accommodate the grab-and-go lunch crowd.

Amano's phone number will be 378-1980. Its website is

Satisfying late-night appetites

Auntie Lee's Chinese Kitchen has opened at 49-B E. Green St., C — the easternmost space in the University Center shopping plaza.

The space is just east of Mirsung Indian Grocery in the spot formerly occupied by Mirsung Indian Restaurant.

Auntie Lee's keeps late hours seven days a week and is open for lunch every day but Saturdays and Mondays.

Its lunch special is a two-item combo with rice for $5.95, and the menu has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.

Auntie Lee's is owned by Wei Guo Huang, who also owns Shanghai 1938 at Village at the Crossing in southwest Champaign.

He has operated Shanghai 1938 since 2007. Before that, he operated Chinese Express in University Center from 1999 to 2006.

His wife, Kit Lee Huang, said Auntie Lee's opened Aug. 28 and offers dine-in, carry-out, delivery and catering.

Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight Monday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and noon to midnight Sunday.

The phone number is 693-7928. The website — including menu — is

No Quizno's

Quick quiz: How far do you have to go to reach the nearest Quizno's?

If you're in Champaign, about 45 miles, according to the sandwich shop's corporate website.

The Quizno's franchise store at 703 S. Neil St., C, closed this summer, meaning area residents have to travel to Mattoon or Normal to satisfy cravings for a Quizno's toasted sub.

At one time, Quizno's had multiple locations in Champaign, Urbana and Savoy. The store on South Neil was the last to close.

'Resale meets retail'

A new resale shop, called restyle, has opened at 1824 Glenn Park Drive, C, just east of the County Market store.

Operated by the husband-and-wife team of Jodean and James Hamilton, the 1,400-square-foot store carries new and gently used clothing, shoes and accessories for women, men and juniors.

"Our slogan is, where resale meets retail," James Hamilton said.

The Hamiltons sell some items on consignment and buy others outright, he said.

"We take all sizes and all seasons, no matter what time of year," he said.

Hamilton explained how he and his wife happened to open the shop.

"We both wanted to clean out our closets, decided we had some nice stuff and thought we could make a dime on it," he said. "Instead of having a garage sale, we thought opening another resale shop in town was a good idea."

The store, which opened Sept. 7, has a large shoe section and also carries small housewares.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. The phone number is 607-2414.

Orange & Brew still brewing

Dan Manolakes said he expects the Orange & Brew Saloon & Grille to open in the former Buttitta's building at 1201 S. Neil St., C, in mid- to late October.

Manolakes, who is opening the sports bar and restaurant with Wayne Brucks, initially thought the place would open in mid-August, before the first University of Illinois home football game.

But the project ran into some kitchen-remodeling glitches. He now looks for construction to finish in about a week, and the opening to come in 30 to 40 days.

Antiques bonanza in Paxton

Correspondent Carol Thilmony reports that Robin McNish has opened a second antiques shop in Paxton.

McNish recently opened Country Crossroads at 221 S. Market St. in a building that formerly housed a bowling alley, restaurant and banquet center.

She already owned Robin's Homespun Dreams — Antiques and Things, just across the street at 224 S. Market St.

At Country Crossroads, McNish sells her own things and also rents to five other vendors. So far, only the restaurant eating area has been remodeled into shop space.

But McNish plans to run estate sales two Saturdays a month — starting this Saturday — in the banquet area and an auction monthly on a Sunday, starting Sept. 29.

She and full-time employee Mary Shedd keep both stores open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

McNish has been in the antiques business almost 30 years. For 12 years, she had a shop in Rantoul, and she spent 12 years in Mahomet, running four different shops over that span.

More arches in Danville

The area's newest McDonald's recently opened at 101 N. Bowman Ave. in Danville.

The store, owned and operated by Deanna and Don Witzel, includes a double-lane drive-through, free Wi-Fi for customers, flat-screen TVs and digital menu boards.

The Witzels have operated McDonald's in Vermilion County for 14 years. Their franchise company, DND Witzel Enterprises, has two other stores in Danville, as well as stores in Georgetown, Oakwood and Hoopeston.

Country Inn renovated

Country Inn & Suites in Champaign has just completed extensive renovations, with completely refurbished guest rooms equipped with new microwave ovens, refrigerators and 32-inch LCD televisions.

The corridors have been revamped with new wall coverings, and the lobby has new draperies, artwork and furniture.

The hotel, at 602 W. Marketview Drive, C, is managed by Rosemont-based First Hospitality Group. That company manages 22 other hotels in Illinois, including two other Country Inn & Suites in Bloomington and Chicago.

Free dental day

Local dental offices associated with Heartland Health Care will host a "free dental day" from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 4, according to a release from that company.

The teams of Champaign Dental Group and Hessel Park Family Dentistry will provide free dental services at 703 S. Neil St., C, to those who otherwise may not receive basic or routine dental care.

Meanwhile, the teams of Family Dental Care of Champaign, Creative Smiles Dental Care and Dentistry by Design will provide free dental services at 14 E. Anthony Drive, C.

Patients can choose either one free cleaning, extraction or filling. In each case, patients will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Open house in Gibson City

The Healing Begins Now Wellness and Pain Center in Gibson City will host an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 113 W. Eighth St.

Demonstrations of acupuncture, fire cupping, tui na manipulative therapy and other aspects of traditional Chinese medicine will be given, and light refreshments will be provided.

The center is operated by Lisa Dillon, a 20-year critical care registered nurse who is also a nationally board certified diplomat acupuncturist. She has a bachelor's degree in nutrition and a master's degree in Oriental medicine, both from the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine.

The center's phone number is 784-8888.

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.

Sections (2):News, Business
Topics (3):Food, Restaurants, Retail