For folks wanting a wedding reception or banquet in a rural setting close to Champaign, Pear Tree Estate has opened for business.
The banquet center "is set among three corn or bean fields, and to the south of the building is a beautiful pond with a waterfall," said Annie Murray, who is opening the facility with her sister, Lauren Murray Miller.
For the last seven years, the sisters have operated L.A. Gourmet Catering, and now they have a banquet center in which to host events.
The cedar-and-glass building is on 10 acres on Mattis Avenue extended, about 1.5 miles north of the High School of St. Thomas More.
The address is 2150 County Road 1000 E, better known as the Dewey-Fisher Road.
"We've already done a couple weddings and the Champaign County Farm Bureau Foundation gala," Annie Murray said. "One of our big draws is the view of the landscape around us."
Already, 75 percent of the Saturdays in 2014 have been booked for weddings and receptions, and the center is in the process of booking University of Illinois and Carle conferences for next year, she said.
Plus, there are a lot of Christmas and cocktail parties coming up, she added.
The 9,800-square-foot ballroom can be divided into two separate rooms, each accommodating 200 to 225 guests. There's a fireplace at the end of each room.
The center has polished concrete floors and open trusses with stone and timber ornamentation. "It has a modern, rustic feel to it," Annie Murray said.
"We have most of our summer weddings on the patio and move inside for the receptions," she added.
L.A. Gourmet still does off-premises catering, but the new venue gives the sisters a place to showcase their services.
"We're currently asking that tours be by appointment," Murray said. "There are a crazy amount of people interested."
The phone number for Pear Tree Estate is 643-2074, and the website is peartreeestate.com.
Bohemia in Urbana
A new store selling vintage furniture, women's clothing, antiques, art and jewelry has opened in the former Wooden Hanger space at the southeast corner of Race and Main streets in downtown Urbana.
Laura Young and Milea Hayes are calling their store Bohemia — not because the merchandise comes from that area of Europe, but because it reflects the unconventional nature of the bohemian lifestyle.
"We love this historical building — the storefront and the windows. We're lucky that it came open," Young said of the space at 135 W. Main St., U.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The store had a soft opening this weekend, and Young and Hayes are planning a grand opening celebration on Friday.
Included in the product mix are chandeliers, vintage and artist-made jewelry and works by local artists.
Hayes said the store also operates Flower Girl Vintage, a business that rents vintage furniture, props and equipment for weddings.
The phone number for Bohemia is 344-5000.
A new company formed by University of Illinois students — KantWait — offers delivery of food and groceries in the areas around the UI ampus and beyond.
KantWait offers customers delivery from Far East grocery, Golden Harbor restaurant and the local franchises of Dunkin Donuts and Dairy Queen as well as from McDonald's and Wal-Mart. It plans to add deliveries from Sitara Indian Restaurant soon.
On its website, KantWait states that those businesses are not affiliated with KantWait, which simply brings products from those businesses to its customers.
With KantWait's standard service, customers meet the delivery driver at a "KantWait Point" along a shuttle route at a specific time — depending on the restaurant or store they've ordered from and the point they've chosen.
For those who don't want to leave home, the company recently began offering premium "to-your-door" service.
At this point, premium service is offered only for groceries, but after Thanksgiving, it's expected to be offered for food from restaurants.
Standard service is available in most areas of the UI campus and at several apartment complexes surrounding campus. Premium service is available to all of the 61801 and 61820 ZIP codes.
Those interested in KantWait's service need to make arrangements using the company's website, http://www.kantwait.com. Pricing information is available there, and questions about the service can be emailed to email@example.com.
KantWait was founded by Lei Jin, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering at the UI, and colleagues Fangbo Tao, He Huang and Aaron Dai, all of whom are computer science students at the UI.
So far, more than 700 people have registered for the service, and between 300 and 400 of them have used it, Jin said. About 40 percent of users have been repeat users, he added.
Jin said he got the idea for the delivery shuttle when he saw someone put a package on an MTD bus and saw someone else retrieve it several stops later. He thought such a system could be used for efficient delivery.
A prototype of the system using KantWait drivers was put in place in May. The system was suspended during the summer and relaunched at the beginning of the fall semester, Jin said.
Jin said KantWait has about 10 employees and operates seven days a week.
Groceries can be ordered the same day or pre-ordered for delivery the next day. KantWait drivers do not accept tips.
E.L. Pruitt Co., a mechanical contracting company based in Springfield, has opened an office in Champaign.
The office, at 1302 W. Anthony Drive, opened in mid-September in the space formerly occupied by Glass Specialty.
E.L. Pruitt provides heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, as well as plumbing and piping, for industrial and commercial clients.
The local office has 12 employees, including four in the office and eight in the field. Shawn Royer, Paul Favero and Mike Marker are the project manager-estimators, and Stacy Smith is the office manager.
With the new office, E.L. Pruitt now has locations in Springfield, Decatur and Champaign. The phone number for the Champaign office is 974-5611, and the website is http://www.elpruitt.com.
Illini Tutoring has moved to 2500 Galen Drive, C, from its previous location in the Business and Technology Center at 701 Devonshire Drive, C, according to head tutor Elizabeth Sotiropoulos.
The service offers one-to-one and drop-in math and science tutoring for students of all ages. It also offers academic coaching to help students stay focused and motivated.
Illini Tutors has also partnered with Parkland College to offer ACT preparation courses. The phone number is 714-8395, and the website is http://www.illinitutoring.com.
The Astoria Company Store has opened in Sullivan, just a block east of the courthouse square.
The store, inside the Harrison Street Inn at 204 E. Harrison St., features handmade soaps, lotions, soy candles, bath salts, sugar scrubs, body sprays and mud masks.
Its grand opening, which started Friday and Saturday, continues today from noon to 3 p.m.
The phone number is 520-1653.
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.