Matt Mortenson's best guess is that Zorba's Restaurant will reopen in April.
The popular Campustown restaurant had to shut down after suffering water damage in a March 2011 fire.
But framing work was under way last week at the restaurant, 627 E. Green St., C.
That gave Mortenson hope that his business will be up and running in April.
"We'll have to see where it goes," he said. "I didn't think it would take over a year, but it's going to, I guess."
There will be a few things different when Zorba's reopens. The kitchen area will be bigger, the bathrooms bigger, and the seating area a little smaller. It's expected to seat 68 to 72, about 10 fewer than before, Mortenson said.
As for the food, "it'll be the same menu; we'll change a few things around," he said. "We'll probably be upgrading the size of gyros a little bit."
Expect much the same decor and color scheme. Mortenson said Zorba's three murals have been saved, with former University of Illinois art student Sean Brice restoring them.
"For me, it's all about the history of Zorba's," Mortenson said of the nearly 40-year-old restaurant.
Some of the history will be reflected in the table tops. Mortenson said he salvaged the restaurant's tables, sanded them down and refinished them, using sealant to preserve newspaper articles, photos and memorabilia of Zorba's and the UI.
"Hopefully, we'll still do live jazz in there at some point, perhaps the summer or fall," he said.
Zorba's has been a mainstay of Campustown since its opening in 1973. Mortenson went to work for Zorba's on June 2, 1982, and he and his wife, Dyanna, purchased the store from former owner Jerry Heintze exactly 15 years later — on June 2, 1997.
Mortenson said when he was first hired, he worked at Zorba's West — at the northeast corner of Springfield Avenue and Country Fair Drive in Champaign. When Zorba's West closed in 1984, Mortenson moved to the Campustown store as manager.
Mortenson said he spent much of the past year working with building owner Jeff Wampler and the Gorski Reifsteck architectural firm in planning the redesign.
He said that after the fire, it was odd continuing to wake up at 5:30 a.m. without an alarm clock — and not have to go into work. But he said it also gave him more time to spend with his 4-year-old grandson, Dominic.
All of the Mortensons' four children — Rhiannon, Dani, Nichelle and Elijah — have worked at Zorba's, with Rhiannon serving as general manager.
Mortenson said income and business-interruption insurance helped out during the past year.
So did customers, who repeatedly checked in to see how he and his family were doing.
"I appreciate the community being behind us," he said.
In west Champaign ...
Look for a couple new businesses to open in the strip shopping center immediately east of the County Market store on Glenn Park Drive in Champaign.
LaVida Massage is moving into the space just north of Cost Cutters, and La Chic Nails is moving into the space just south of Cost Cutters, according to John Carson, property manager for the Champaign Village complex.
In southwest Champaign ...
Brian Klepzig, an acupuncturist and chiropractor who has had a practice in Charleston the past 15 years, has opened a second practice in Champaign.
Klepzig Natural Healing Clinic is located at 2902 Crossing Court, Suite D, C. The Champaign office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the Charleston office is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Klepzig said his wife grew up in Champaign, a half-mile away from the office site, and when he closed an office in Arthur last year, he chose to open one in Champaign.
The phone number for the Champaign practice is 359-7400.
Preschool coming to Ogden
Tonya Yeazel, who has operated St. Joseph Christian In-Home Day Care for six years, plans to close that business and open New Horizon Child Development Center in Ogden.
The new center will be at 104 S. Market St. — formerly the site of a collection agency — and will offer care for children 6 weeks old to 12 years old.
Yeazel isn't sure when the center will be cleared for opening, but she's targeting March 12.
Hours are expected to be 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Miranda Church will be the center's director, Yeazel said.
Yeazel said her home day-care served families from Danville, Champaign, Sidney and other places. One reason she decided to start the new center is that parents interested in kindergarten-readiness wanted "a classroom feeling," she said.
The Christian-oriented center expects to have rooms for various ages: six weeks to 14 months; 15 months to 2 years old; 2 to 3 years old; and 4 to 5 years old.
The center will also offer before- and after-school care for older children, as well as summer care.
New Horizon's phone number is 582-8010.
Hotwire opens in Tuscola
Hotwire Networks has opened in downtown Tuscola, at 134 W. Sale St.
Owner Adam Burwell of Homer said the firm provides computer services, networking services, web hosting, web development and security surveillance.
It also provides computer and network support plans for both residential and commercial customers, he said.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Burwell said he has been doing business as Hotwire Networks for almost 12 years, but this is the first time the firm has operated from a storefront. Zach Wozencraft of Philo is the company's chief technical officer.
Customers can bring their computers to the store, or Hotwire Networks staff can visit their home or office to service equipment, Burwell said.
Hotwire Networks' phone number is 253-8530 or 866-814-0770.
Frozen-custard season to begin
Fans of Jarling's Custard Cup in Champaign and Custard Cup in Danville may want to mark their calendars.
Christy Jarling said the Champaign location, at 309 W. Kirby St., will open for the season on Friday. Hours will be noon to 10 p.m. daily, with the drive-through closing at 9:45 p.m.
Nancy Smart said the Danville location, at 2507 N. Vermilion St., will open for the season on March 16. Hours will be noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 10 p.m. Sundays.
Rantoul business adds service
Art Action Graphics in Rantoul has added screen-printing to the services it offers.
The business, at 127 N. Garrard St., already did custom airbrushing of clothing and production of photo T-shirts, according to Thames Seabrooke, who operates the business with her husband John.
Women from at least 13 communities in East Central Illinois are contestants in Maurices Main Street Model Search.
More than 1,500 women across the nation have entered the contest to become one of 12 featured in a Maurices campaign.
The 12 will win $1,500 gift cards for themselves and a $7,500 makeover for a nonprofit group in their communities.
Online voting, which continues through March 19, will narrow the field to 100.
A search for Illinois contestants turned up 111, including 13 from East Central Illinois. Candidates include Mia Colbert of Mansfield, Aleigha Sitter of Camargo, Jessica Meyer of Tolono, Dawn Heacock of Tuscola, Leia Frye of Westville, Jennifer Boberg of Paxton, Amy Zook of Fisher, Jessica Turnbaugh of Arthur, Sierra Reed of Charleston, Miranda Quinn of Villa Grove, Morgan Spiering of Danville, Ericka Bumgardner of Charleston and Sabrina Zercher of Tilton.
To see the models and vote, go to http://www.mauricesmainstreetmodel.com.
Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at email@example.com; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.