It's Your Business: Olive oil shop moves to Champaign

If your salad is looking a little naked, you can find not just dressing but a whole wardrobe for it at Olive Oil International.

The new store at Market Place Mall sells 18 types of infused olive oil and 22 kinds of balsamic vinegar, according to store owner Samudrika "Sam" Weeraratne.

The store opened March 18 in the Bergner's wing of the mall, between Jewelry Lab and The Illini Shop.

Weeraratne said that until earlier this year, her brother operated Olive Oil International at Eastland Mall in Bloomington.

But when her brother moved, Weeraratne decided she would return to Champaign-Urbana — where her son, Gajaba Naraddage, is a freshman at the University of Illinois — and open Olive Oil International at Market Place.

The extra virgin olive oil is available with several flavors, including chipotle, blood orange, mushroom sage and black truffle.

Not to be outdone, the vinegars also come in a variety of flavors, including juniper berry, cucumber-melon, white coconut and black currant.

Folks who want to sample the olive oils "can come in and taste them with fresh bread," Weeraratne said. "They can taste the vinegar too."

Using the olive oil and vinegar, people can make their own vinaigrette. But Weeraratne said they can also use the vinegar over strawberries and other fresh fruit or pour it over ice cream.

Vinegar can also be used as a meat tenderizer or a marinade, she added.

Stainless steel containers — known as "fusti" — for the olive oil and vinegar are also available at the store.

Olive Oil International is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. The phone number is 356-4610.

Weeraratne said she expects the store to hold a grand opening in mid-April, featuring Frantoia extra virgin olive oil from Italy.

Ace is the place

A new Ace Hardware store will open Monday at 2819 W. Kirby Ave., C — near the County Market supermarket at Kirby Avenue and Duncan Road in Champaign.

It's the eighth Ace Hardware store owned and operated by Niemann Foods of Quincy, which also owns the County Market store as well as the nearby Pet Supplies Plus store.

The company said the new Ace Hardware has been designed to reflect the needs of the community, with home improvement products in categories that include paint, tools and lawn-and-garden equipment.

Ace Hardware's most recent appearance in Champaign-Urbana was at Champaign's Village at the Crossing, but that store closed in 2009.

Niemann has said it also plans to open an Ace Hardware store near the County Market supermarket slated to be built on the soon-to-be-redeveloped Carriage Center site on South Neil Street in Champaign.

Free coffee, pastries coming

A grand opening for the new Starbucks Coffee store inside the Illini Union Bookstore is slated for 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

And get this: Free coffee and pastry samples will be available, as well as the chance to win a $50 Starbucks gift card in a drawing.

The store is the first of three Illini Union-operated Starbucks venues to open over the next three years.

The Illini Union Bookstore is located at 809 S. Wright St., C, at the corner of Wright and Daniel streets.

Starbucks is in the southeast corner of the bookstore and has a large seating area. Starbucks is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

The store is expected to employ more than 60 student workers, Illini Union director Lowa Mwilambwe said in a release.

Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at dodson@news-gazette.com; 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):Entrepreneurs, Retail

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