It's Your Business: Brixx pizza chain looks at site on Neil Street

It's Your Business: Brixx pizza chain looks at site on Neil Street

Nothing's official yet, but investors who want to bring a Brixx wood-fired pizza restaurant to Champaign are looking at a site on South Neil Street.

Dr. Tom Lessaris and Dr. Tom Scaggs have their eyes on a site at Neil and Devonshire Drive. It's part of the Carriage Center property that's being redeveloped with County Market and Ace Hardware as its anchors.

If things go as they hope, Brixx will be on one of the out-lots.

"We're hashing out the contract details, and both sides have a full intent to proceed," Scaggs told The News-Gazette last week.

Lessaris and Scaggs hope to put a 5,500-square-foot building there, with Brixx occupying about 3,200 square feet. Another restaurant is interested in the rest of the building.

"That's a really wonderful location," Scaggs said. "There's lots of traffic, it's near the university, it's close to good neighborhoods and it would be near County Market, other restaurants and other retail. It's the perfect spot for us."

Lessaris said Brixx offers a dining experience unlike most pizza places.

"It has a good price point. It's a relaxed place. It has 24 beers on tap, with lots of microbrews. It's filled with families, so you can have a nice beer or two with dinner. But it also has ... a younger crowd in the evening," he said.

Brixx has about 40 employees per location, and the restaurants usually accommodate 120 indoors, with more seating available on the patio.

Lessaris and Scaggs said they're told the lots on South Neil will be ready for building in May or June of next year. They're looking to the end of 2014 for a potential opening.

Brixx has locations in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

"We hope to bring Brixx throughout central Illinois and Indiana eventually," Lessaris said.

Tea Coop?

A new tea shop, HiTea, plans to open in part of the old Art Coop space at Skylight Court, 410 E. Green St., C.

Yigen Guo, a partner in the venture with Xin Zhang, said the Champaign shop will be HiTea's third location, following the original store in Oxford, Ohio, and a second store in East Lansing, Mich.

Guo said the store should particularly appeal to Chinese and other Asian students at the University of Illinois.

The shop will serve tea drinks, including bubble tea, and coffees, Guo said. But there are no plans to serve food.

Part of the old Art Coop space was renovated for residential use, but the west end is being remodeled for the tea shop.

Guo said he hopes HiTea will open in Champaign in early November. Hours are expected to be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

Guo said he and Zhang plan to open five HiTea stores this year and expand to 10 states next year. Both are graduates of Miami University in Ohio, where Guo majored in finance and Zhang majored in economics.

Elsewhere in Campustown

Campus Mobile Solutions has opened up in the former Lucky Nails location at 624 S. Fifth St. in Champaign's Campustown.

The business, owned and operated by Amikam "Miko" Abarbanel, repairs mobile devices and sells accessories for them.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, said Abarbanel, who studied electrical engineering at the University of Illinois.

The phone number is 607-5048.

Clothing at Gregory Place East

Dear 72, a clothing store for men and women that features trendy clothing, accessories and beauty products from Korea and the United States, plans to open in Urbana's Gregory Place East in late winter.

The store, owned by Johnny Shin, will occupy 1,400 square feet just north of Caffe Bene, a Korean-based cafe chain that last week announced plans to locate at the northeast corner of Gregory and Nevada streets.

A release from JSM Commercial, which handles leasing at Gregory Place East, said Dear 72 will carry "a wide variety of styles from casual to k-pop urban styles from Asia."

Update on Sears

It's been nearly 20 months since Sears announced it was selling its store property at Champaign's Market Place Shopping Center to the mall's owner, General Growth Properties.

The store was one of 12 store properties that Sears sold to General Growth Properties in a transaction announced in February 2012 and consummated two months later.

When the sale was first announced, Sears said "the stores will continue to operate as Sears locations in 2013, with final closing dates to be determined and announced later this year."

When the sale was consummated, Sears said "the stores will continue to operate as Sears locations into 2013 or 2014, with final closing dates to be determined and announced later this year."

As of last week, there was no word on when the store might close.

"We have not set a closing date for the store," said Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications for Sears Holdings.

Rue awakening

Rue 21, which sells fashions and accessories for young men and women, opened its new 6,025-square-foot store at Champaign's Market Place Plaza on Thursday.

The store is in the former Fashion Bug space between Maurices and Hancock Fabrics. Its phone number is 352-7616.

Assisted living

Bentley Builders is looking at building a 60-unit assisted-living facility near the Carle location at Mattis Avenue and Curtis Road in Champaign.

At a Champaign Plan Commission meeting in August, Jeff Bentley said the facility would be a one-story building on Congressional Way in the Liberty on the Lake subdivision. He termed it an $8 million project.

Bentley told the commission that the facility would employ 34 people full-time and would require about 35 to 40 workers for the construction year.

Attempts were made to reach Bentley for further comment last week, but the calls were not returned.

Pop in to Pop-Up

Norden, a design studio that recently opened in the [co][lab] building at 206 W. Main St., U, is inviting the public to visit its Pop-Up Shop during Norden Design Week, which runs through Saturday.

Anna Gutsch and Johann Rischau hope people will stop by to meet them, see the space and share what they like about design.

The Pop-Up Shop is open from noon to 7 p.m. and features products that Gutsch and Rischau recently designed.

Gutsch and Rischau studied design in Germany before getting master's degrees in industrial design from the University of Illinois.

Among their recent designs: a stool for collaborative work spaces, Japanese dinnerware and a concept for a house addition in Champaign.

"We offer a broad range of design services and work," Gutsch said.

They liked the concept of Matthew Cho's [co][lab] and felt their design firm would fit in well with those working in social media and software development.

For a peek at what Norden Design does, visit its website,

More [co][lab]-orators ...

Speaking of [co][lab], other businesses occupying the collaborative work space at 206 W. Main St., U, include:

— Catedral Consulting, which helps businesses identify and implement social media strategies. Owner Carl Catedral said he wants to help organizations and small businesses use social media to share their stories.

— Hands On, which helps businesses develop online stores and improve online shopping experiences. Andrew Janssen operates Hands On.

— Urbana Land Arts, an arts collective that integrates cultural and environmental stewardship and public art.

Pizza, coffee and more

Cafeteria & Company at 208 W. Main St., U, recently celebrated its grand opening. That new food and drink collective — next door to [co][lab] — includes Pizza M and Flying Machine Coffee.

Pizza M, operated by Matt Kitzmiller, features dine-in, carryout and outdoor seating. Hours are 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays. The phone number is 202-1919.

Flying Machine Coffee, operated by Josh Lucas, is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Its number is 493-1550.

Gallery plans 2014 closing

Jan Chandler of Heartland Gallery in downtown Urbana recently announced in a newsletter to customers that the gallery at 112 W. Main St., U, will close in mid-January.

Chandler said she plans to keep her two booths in the Chicago area open and may perhaps open the gallery at another location in Champaign-Urbana at some point.

The closing is driven by both health and economic reasons, Chandler said.

"With the current economy still not doing as well as we had hoped, and things not moving along in downtown Urbana as quickly as we had envisioned, we are still not a profitable business after seven years of trying," she wrote.

Chandler said she will still order and receive new items for the holiday season.

"I have every intention of reopening here in Urbana-Champaign again after taking some time off, though probably in a different location, and possibly as a cooperative with a few other like businesses," she wrote.

Expanding to Champaign

Jennipher Wilson, who has operated Vital Education and Supply since 2006, plans to open an office in Champaign by Nov. 1.

Wilson trains people in cardiovascular resuscitation, first aid and avoiding bloodborne pathogens. She works with employees of schools, libraries, industrial firms, construction firms and health care providers. She also sells automated external defibrillators.

Since 2006, Wilson has been working from her home in Loda and training people in their workplaces.

But she felt she needed to be closer to clients in Decatur, Springfield and Champaign — so she arranged to take space at 2703 W. Clark Road, C.

With a central training location, she can bring individuals together for training.

Wilson is an emergency medical technician who previously worked for Pro Ambulance.

The phone number for the business is 877-558-7377.

Sunny future for old Wendy's?

Sunny Pook recently purchased the former Wendy's building at 1301 N. Prospect Ave., C. But Pook said don't look for change there soon because the current occupant, Illinois Title Loans, has a long-term lease.

Pook founded Hot Wok Express in Urbana in 1991 and eventually sold the restaurant business to Tai Yong. That allowed Pook to visit his brother in Malaysia, who was ill.

Pook said he bought the property on North Prospect because he likes the location.

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 (2):People, Restaurants