So long, Zojo

So long, Zojo

URBANA — Cafe Zojo, a coffee shop that has been a fixture of The Pines shopping center since 2012, plans to close on or by next Sunday.

Patrons say they'll be sorry to see it go.

Managing partner Teresa Baldwin has been "a gracious host," said Phil Griffith, a former University of Illinois mathematics professor who meets there regularly with other former academics. Their areas of expertise range from art and design to agriculture.

It's not that Cafe Zojo is close for all of them — Griffith drives there from northeast Urbana, and geophysicist Paul Heigold comes from Champaign. But Griffith said Zojo is "a very accessible place where we're tolerated."

A Facebook posting that went up on the Cafe Zojo page last week stated: "After much consideration, we've decided it is best to close Cafe Zojo and move on to our next adventure ... we are excited to focus on welcoming Teresa and Greg's new baby, coming very soon, and seeing what new opportunities Urbana brings us in the future!"

Expanding on that message via email, Baldwin said several factors figured into the decision to shut up shop.

"The business closed because of the usual reasons businesses close," she said. "We couldn't get enough people in. Our number-one complaint was that we were a little far away for most people."

The Pines is at the southeast corner of Philo and Windsor roads, and that intersection has been the site of construction work for months. Some lanes on Windsor have been closed, as have portions of Philo Road.

"The construction didn't help the situation," Baldwin said. "I originally planned to work as long as I could and take a little time off for the baby. Now I will be able to take more time off, which will be great, honestly."

The Facebook post said Cafe Zojo's hours will be 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. — and its last day of business will be July 12, or until inventory is sold out.

"We will continue to bake house-made goodies and serve all of our drinks until we run out of ingredients," Baldwin said in an email. "We'll keep posting updates on our Facebook page on what's left and what's on sale."

Those "goodies" weren't run-of-the-mill items — recent offerings included chocolate velvet cupcakes, bacon quiche, ham-and-Swiss empanadas, Boston cream trifle and coconut cream pie.

Doug Wolfersberger, who worked in administrative computing at the UI, said he is concerned about the effects of Cafe Zojo's departure from The Pines.

"What's sad is one has to wonder what will happen to the place," Wolfersberger said, adding that the coffee shop draws people to the shopping center. "You've got to have people."

Cafe Zojo's impending closure comes on the heels of Maia Roman Spa and the OmniBarre group fitness studio closing at The Pines earlier this year.

Remaining open are The Little Gym, Bouffant Salon, Kinex Fitness Studios, Subway and AT&T, as well as Milo's Restaurant, Monical's Pizza and Busey Bank.

A message seeking comment from Mark Dixon, director of real estate for the commercial and industrial divisions of The Atkins Group, which operates The Pines shopping center, was not immediately returned.

In the meantime, Baldwin said she is not ruling out an eventual return to the business.

"Right now, I'm going to take a much-needed break and focus on what's important — starting our family — and then go from there. If a new place makes sense after that, I'd love to see where that takes us," she said.

"Otherwise, I have enough experience and know so many wonderful people in this town. ... I'm sure I'll find something that works," she said.

Baldwin said she is proud that she never sacrificed quality to bring in revenue and lower costs. She said customers appreciated that.

"They supported us the past three years and also did their best to spread the word, and I thank them for that," Baldwin said. "I will miss our great customers, but I know we'll see each other again."

Sections (2):News, Business
Topics (2):Economy, Restaurants