It's Your Business: Japanese restaurant leads slew of dining news

It's Your Business: Japanese restaurant leads slew of dining news

Jin Park is bringing two innovative concepts to Champaign — a Japanese restaurant that will open soon in Campustown and a restaurant/bar/karaoke lounge destined for downtown Champaign.

Sakanaya, the Japanese restaurant, is expected to open to the general public Nov. 8 at 403 E. Green St., C, Park said. He plans to host some invitation-only gatherings there before then.

Sakanaya — which occupies the space formerly taken by Sushi Avenue — will serve sushi rolls, ramen, udon and soy garlic chicken, among other things. The name can be translated as "fish market" or "fish store."

Remodeling of the space is still underway, but Park said when it's finished, it should be "cozy." Manager Nick Nakamura described the space as "modern with some traditional accents" and said the staff intends to provide "a personal touch" to service.

Hours are expected to be 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It's likely to be open from noon to 8 p.m. Sundays for brunch and early dinner.

The restaurant can accommodate about 44 guests, Park said.

Meanwhile, work is beginning on Miga, a restaurant/bar/karaoke lounge that will be just west of Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works on Church Street in downtown Champaign.

Miga will occupy the portion of the M2 on Neil building that includes the old Trevett-Mattis Banking Co. facade.

The restaurant, which is expected to seat about 100, will serve "modern American fare," with an accent on seasonal food produced using sustainable practices, Nakamura said.

Beyond the general seating area will be three private rooms configured for karaoke gatherings, Park said.

One room is suited for parties of up to five, another for groups up to eight and a third for gatherings as large as 14.

The target age demographic for patrons are people from the "high 20s to the low 40s," he said.

Sakanaya is expected to employ about 10, while Miga will employ between 30 and 40.

Bye, IHOP; hello, HERE

Pieces are quickly falling in place for construction of a new 16-story apartment building on the northwest corner of Fourth and Green streets in Campustown.

The IHOP restaurant at 308 E. Green St., C, closed several weeks ago, and furniture and fixtures were being removed by a salvage company last week.

Meanwhile, the Campus Liquor store at 312 E. Green St., C, had its last day of business on Saturday. Owner Sital Patel said he plans to reopen the business at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year at a new location with a new name.

Specifically, he plans to lease space on the first floor of the five-story apartment building under construction on the northwest corner of Second and Green streets.

The business — to be called Campus Pantry — will carry milk, bread and other items in addition to liquor, Patel said.

As previously reported, the 16-story apartment building, proposed by developer HERE Champaign LLC, would occupy the IHOP and Campus Liquor sites.

It would have an automated parking system, with cars being moved by elevators to "parking vaults" on the second, third and fourth floors of the building.

More green

The owner of Evergreen Tobacco in Campustown is planning to open a hookah lounge called The Green Lite at 50 E. Green St., C.

"It should be open by the time students get back for the second semester," said Anthony Awad, who handles marketing for owner Omar Sheikh.

The hookah lounge will occupy the building that for many years was the home of Kwik Kopy Printing.

Awad said the aim is to provide "a fun, friendly atmosphere" where guests can smoke hookahs and try tobaccos from all over the world.

The Green Lite is expected to have snacks available, such as fresh roasted nuts, Turkish delight and baklava as well as Turkish coffee and espresso.

The lounge will likely seat 60 to 80 and is expected to be open from noon to midnight weekdays and from noon to 1 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, he said.

"The reason we're opening this is, there are so many students from the Middle East, India and Pakistan who don't drink alcohol, and there's zero source of entertainment for them," Awad said.

"Why don't we open up a hookah lounge ... where they can watch TV and have a cup of coffee, without the alcohol involved?"

Evergreen Tobacco, which occupied the ground floor of the apartment building at 309 E. Green St., C, for three years, recently moved across the street to larger quarters at 306 E. Green St.

That's the space formerly occupied by the Fubar Lounge.

Also new in Campustown

— Q Smokehouse has opened at 617 E. Green St., the former home of Qdoba Mexican Grill. Owners Sean and Qiaozi Mahaffey operated Smoke Que & Brew at Champaign's Village at the Crossing before opening Q Smokehouse.

— The Slice, a restaurant serving pizza and pasta and doubling as a Mexican bakery, has opened at 404 E. Green St., C.

That's the former home of Burrito King, which moved a couple doors east to 408 E. Green St., C.

The Slice serves pizza by the pie or slice, and varieties include fajita pizza, Mexican pizza, chipotle pizza and pizza mole, among others.

Other offerings include pasta, wings, and fresh-baked Mexican bread and cookies. The phone number is 607-5507.

— Papa D's Bar & Grill has opened in the former Geovanti's space at 401 E. Green St., C. Its menu includes chicken strips, burgers, gyros, pizza, calzones, pitas, sandwiches, pasta and salads.

— Antonio's Pizza by the Slice reopened Oct. 18 at 619 E. Green St., C, after being closed a couple years, manager Steve Reves said. The restaurant lists a variety of meat, chicken, vegetarian and pesto pizzas and has brought back some employees who worked there before. The phone number is 365-9500.

Grand opening for Sitara

Sitara Indian Restaurant and Lounge, at 114 S. Race St., U, plans to celebrate its grand opening on Wednesday.

The restaurant serves northern Indian cuisine, as well as wine, Indian beer and domestic beer. Signature items include butter chicken and palak paneer, made of curried spinach and Indian farmer's cheese.

The grand opening starts at 4:30 p.m., with door prizes and drawings from 5 to 10 p.m. Cake and other special desserts that are not on the menu will be served free during the celebration.

"We would like to invite everyone to come celebrate with us at our grand opening and ribbon cutting," said Holli Finley Gomes of Sitara in a release.

Sitara is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Meanwhile, across town ...

Ratio Architects will host an open house for its new Champaign studio from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The firm recently moved its studio from 10 E. Chester St., C, to Suite 102 on the first floor of the M2 on Neil building at 301 N. Neil St., C.

Ratio was the firm that designed M2.

"M2 was Ratio's first project in downtown Champaign, and we find it fitting to have them return 'home' to the building they designed," said Cody Sokolski of One Main Development. "We are excited to have them as a tenant and as a partner."

Woodworking festival

Tim Yoder, host of TV's "Woodturning Workshop," will be in town this week for CU WoodShop Supply's fourth annual Fall Festival.

The business, at 1401 Parkland Court, C, will host three days of classes, demonstrations, tours and drawings Thursday through Saturday.

Yoder will teach two of seven classes offered during the festival — a basic woodturning class and a Christmas ornament class.

Also on hand as an instructor will be Paul Cobb, who will teach several turning classes on stave bowls and segmented bowls.

Twelve vendors will take part in the festival, and 50 demonstrations and presentations are scheduled. Lunch, drinks and snacks will be available daily.

For detailed information about the classes, visit

Jimmy John's in Danville

Nov. 5 is the projected opening date for the new Jimmy John's restaurant at 3120 N. Vermilion St. in Danville, according to owner Seth Hobbs.

The shop will be at the south end of the Plaza 31 business complex across from the Village Mall.

Hiring for part-time positions, including drivers and sandwich makers, is going on. Hobbs said job seekers can get information at the store on how to apply.

The store won't have a drive-up window initially, but will deliver — even orders of just one sandwich, Hobbs said. Hours are expected to be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Also on the freaky-fast front ...

JSM has announced that its seven-story Green Street Towers apartment complex at 616 E. Green St., C, will be equipped with a 10-gigabit-per-second Internet connection, thanks to a partnership with Pavlov Media.

"This Internet service will make Green Street Towers the fastest student apartment complex in the country," a JSM release stated.

The complex will be using Pavlov Media's Tesseractiv and WebSnap technologies offering speeds 100 times faster than average Internet services available throughout the country, the release stated.

JSM plans to have Green Street Towers equipped with the 10-gigabit-per-second Internet connection by fall 2014.

All other JSM apartment properties are expected to have 1-gigabit-per-second Internet connection speeds by that point, using Pavlov technologies.

Butler did it

Specifically, Frank Butler opened Butler Land Co. at 515 Poland Road in Danville.

The business specializes in the sale of farmland and recreational property in Illinois and Indiana.

Butler has more than 30 years of experience in farm real estate sales, farm and farmland financing and farm management. He is licensed as an Illinois managing broker and an Indiana principal broker.

The firm's phone number is 260-4742, and the website is

New generation takes over

Bill Whalen has owned Whalen Plumbing and Heating in Champaign for 43 years.

Now that he's retiring from the plumbing business, his son, longtime plumber John Whalen, plans to keep the family business going.

The phone number for the business is 621-7410.

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):Housing, Restaurants

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Ellen wrote on October 28, 2013 at 9:10 am

WTH?? Now there is no IHOP in C-U??? One of the last surviving places to eat a decent breakfast in town. Just smh....

And...not that I disapprove, but how is the "hookah shop" able to allow smoking when bars and restaurants cannot ?

emsed1 wrote on October 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

A tobacco shop that derives 80% of it's gross revenue from tobacco, and does not hold a liquor, food or restaurant license, may allow smoking according to the Smoke-Free Illinois act.