Restaurant supply runs in blood of KECdesign's founders

CHAMPAIGN – Dan Proctor grew up in the restaurant-supply business. So perhaps it's no surprise his company today is furnishing the kitchens of restaurants, hotels and day care centers nationwide.

KECdesign, based in Champaign's Apollo Industrial Subdivision, supplies kitchen equipment for the Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches chain. The company also supplied equipment for such high-profile local projects as the Memorial Stadium renovation, Houlihan's Restaurant and the I Hotel and Conference Center.

Eat, sleep and gas up at unique sites along U.S. highways

With no fish boil in sight, Greg Martell opts for The Fish Wagon.

"I'm originally from Wisconsin and I live in Indiana now. Nobody has fish boils or fish fries there," Martell says. "That's hard when you love fish."

So when he's in Illinois twice a year for work at the Stone Ridge Dairy in rural Mansfield, he stops regularly at The Fish Wagon in Farmer City.

"I come to Stone Ridge once in the spring and once in the fall. And every Friday and Saturday night – this is where I eat," Martell adds as he places an order at The Fish Wagon window.

The Fish Wagon is owned and operated by Kevin and Hope Castle. It's a mobile example of roadside architecture – a restaurant on wheels. More precisely, it's a takeout diner in what used to be a motor home.

"This is something that came about on its own and it has taken on a life of its own," Hope Castle says. "This is our 10th year here."

The Fish Wagon is a modern-day twist on the horse-drawn lunch wagons that are the forerunner of the diner. The wagons would park in front of factories and offer reasonably priced lunches to workers. Before long, the wagons were parked in permanent locations and by the 1930s had evolved into the streamlined diner.

Roadside architecture is also sometimes called roadside Americana or even roadside archaeology. It is a wide and varied category, from stainless steel-sheathed diners to tile-roofed, mission-style gas stations to log-cabin motel cottages – all tied to America's love of the automobile and travel. A summary in three words: eat, sleep, gas.

It's Your Business: El Toro Bravo offers Mexican dining for 374

El Toro Bravo, the new and larger restaurant built by the owners of El Toro restaurants, is open for business at 2561 W. Springfield Ave., C, near Kaufman Lake.

It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and eventually the bar will be open later, said Victor Fuentes, an owner of the family owned group of Mexican restaurants.

Learning to stick with it

Though tempted to quit by visit home, cadet makes choice to finish his studies

EDITOR'S NOTE – This is the third of an occasional series by News-Gazette staff writer Tim Mitchell about the young men and women who attend Lincoln's Challenge Academy in Rantoul. Lincoln's Challenge is a program for high school dropouts operated by the Illinois National Guard. Students live in a military environment for 22 weeks on the former Chanute Air Force Base while completing an education program geared to finishing high school. More than 10,000 have graduated from the program since 1993.

University president seeks to expand Global Campus program

Global Campus, the University of Illinois' online education initiative, is headed for a restructuring less than a year after its launch.

UI President B. Joseph White is proposing to make the Global Campus a fourth campus, a fully accredited one separate from the others in Urbana, Chicago and Springfield. Accreditation would mean Global Campus could one day award its own degrees.

Friends of late Po' Boys owner to host 'Arnie Tailgate'

CHAMPAIGN – Old times at Po' Boys are not forgotten. To prove the point, some of the late proprietor's friends are resurrecting the barbecue house for homecoming weekend at the University of Illinois.

"A group of us who were regulars thought it might be a nice idea to have something in Arnie Yarber's honor to coincide with UI homecoming," said Dan Hamelberg, a Champaign real estate investor who was a close friend of Mr. Yarber.

Forum on economy set for Wednesday on UI campus

URBANA – The University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs will sponsor a forum on the economy Wednesday morning on the UI campus.

The forum will bring together nationally known experts on the economy, tax policy and the financial markets to analyze the situation facing the financial system, the proposals before Congress and prospects for the future.

Downtown Paxton apparel store set to close doors

PAXTON – After 54 years in business, Wilma Gibson has plans to close the doors of Laybourn's Apparel in downtown Paxton.

The store's final sale will start Oct. 1, and Gibson has hopes of closing the doors for good by Dec. 1.

County can bill Covenant for '07 property taxes, judge rules

URBANA – Champaign County taxing authorities can bill Provena Covenant Medical Center for 2007 property taxes, Champaign County Judge Michael Jones ruled this morning.

Jones vacated his order of this past spring that had protected the hospital from being billed for 2007 taxes based on a Sangamon County court decision that found the hospital to be tax-exempt.

Board members approve Mahomet-Seymour budget for 2008-09

MAHOMET – The Mahomet-Seymour Board of Education unanimously passed the 2008-09 school district budget, which shows a $172,903 discrepancy between revenue and expenditures.

Revenue for the district is projected to be $27,035,953, while expenditures are estimated at $27,208,856.