It's Your Business: Cheese shop a new offering at Old Farm

A new cheese shop and deli has opened in the Old Farm Shops in Champaign.

Cheese and Crackers stocks a wide variety of cheeses for a variety of different tastes. Not only does the store carry 10 blue cheeses to choose from for your blue-cheese-topped filet, it also plans to stock up on those squeaky cheese curds.

"We want to share our love of good food with the community," said Mindy Basi. The store is the brainchild of Mindy and her husband, Bart Basi. Their son, Bart Basi IV, also helps out.

Easton-Bell reports $4.1 million net loss for year

RANTOUL – Easton-Bell Sports reported a net loss of $4.1 million for its recently completed fiscal year, compared with $13.4 million in net income the previous year.

Net sales dropped to $716 million in 2009, down from $775 million in 2008, the Van Nuys, Calif.-based company stated in its annual report this week.

Easton-Bell, which has a major production facility east of Rantoul, makes products for a variety of sports, including football, baseball, softball, ice hockey, cycling and snowboarding.

U.S. Senate bill seen as positive step for biodiesel industry

DANVILLE – Employees at Danville's biodiesel production facility are more encouraged after the U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that includes a biodiesel tax credit that had expired Jan. 1, dampening sales in the entire industry.

But the tax incentive still has legislative hurdles to clear before the credit is actually restored to those who purchase biodiesel, an alternative fuel that's made from soybean and other oils, such as vegetable oil.

Versatile wardrobe makes transition into spring a 'shoe' in

It might feel like spring is coming, but if you look at the calendar, it's still winter.

And Illinois weather doesn't necessarily promise to feel springlike after next Sunday.

So if you want to buy some new clothes you can wear now (or during the next cold snap) and continue wearing into warmer weather, try to buy some items with color, suggests Macy's Visual Manager Becky Harris.

She's seeing lots of people use black, brown or cream as base colors and then incorporating pops of yellow, coral or deep aqua.

Champaign County home sales cool down at start of 2010

CHAMPAIGN – Chris Knight has had his house on the market for 410 days.

But so far, he's found no takers for the 19th-century home at 621 W. Clark St., C.

"I really thought it would sell quickly," Knight said. "Ha! Was I ever wrong! Maybe the market has changed and large ornate Victorians are no longer sought after."

Knight, the owner of the Blind Pig Pub and Blind Pig Brewery in downtown Champaign, bought the house in 2003 for $160,100.

It's Your Business: New Asian restaurant in Baker's Square site

The newest Asian restaurant to open in the Champaign-Urbana area is Ginger Asian Bistro, which serves Thai, Japanese and Chinese food.

The restaurant is near Market Place Mall in the building that used to be home to Baker's Square, 1902 Center Drive, C.

"It's totally different from what it was before. It definitely has an Asian feel to it as soon as you walk in the door. There's a lot of marble and glass, and it has a high-end look," said Jeremy Martin, a restaurant consultant who is helping open the restaurant.

Apartments trump condos in downtown Champaign housing boom

CHAMPAIGN – After Ryann Hubbard Monahan graduated from the University of Illinois, she didn't pack up and leave Champaign-Urbana for a job in Chicago, St. Louis, New York City or elsewhere.

She stayed in town and, after marrying Chris Monahan in February 2009, moved into his condominium at One Main in Champaign and embraced the downtown experience.

Nexstar, Bon-Ton and Consolidated Communications reports

The parent company of WCIA-TV saw increases in core advertising revenue during the fourth quarter of 2009, and its chairman predicts continued increases this year.

Nexstar Broadcasting Group's local advertising revenue was up 6 percent for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, and national advertising was up 10.5 percent.

"This trend is extending into 2010 and will be reflected in the first-quarter results and throughout the year," said Nexstar Chairman Perry A. Sook.

Bill would take some action on, but not eliminate, legislative scholarships

SPRINGFIELD – A bill aimed at doing something about legislative scholarships without eliminating the controversial program is on the General Assembly fast track.

The measure, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, moved out of the Senate in less than two weeks. On Wednesday it received the approval of the House State Government Committee, 9-7. Its House sponsor is Rep. Bob Flider, D-Decatur.

Independent panel for county board districts could happen next week

URBANA – A plan to have an independent commission draw the new boundaries for county board districts could win approval from the Champaign County Board as early as next Thursday.

In a test vote of the controversial plan, members of the county board meeting as a committee of the whole, approved the measure Tuesday night, 16-8. The winning side included the votes of all but two board Republicans and seven Democrats.

The measure had been promoted by Republicans Alan Nudo and Greg Knott and Democrats Steve Beckett and Barbara Wysocki.