Today's Special: Restaurant getting juiced up

CHAMPAIGN — Mashawi Grill has been open only for about seven weeks in Campustown, but already owner Jamil Abdel-Hamid is contemplating a new twist.

The restaurant, which features Mediterranean cuisine, plans to add a juice bar and nonalcoholic cocktail bar later this spring so customers can create their own fruit-juice concoctions.

It's Your Business: Couple to open mart specializing in African foods

When Memoire Budimbu Mabiza and Lisette Mbaki learned that Chang's Oriental Mart in Champaign would close this spring, they were sad — but also saw an opportunity.

The Congolese couple said many local African immigrants, including themselves, relied on Chang's for traditional African food staples.

Some wondered, "What food are we going to eat?" Mbaki said.

Tom's Mailbag April 3, 2015

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Sunday Sneak: A few more weeks for Strawberry Fields

Remodeling of the Strawberry Fields natural and organic foods store in downtown Urbana began in earnest about a week and a half ago, and owner Mohammad Al-Heeti said he hopes the store will reopen in late May or early June.

13 for luck

DANVILLE — Carla Cahill's lucky number must be 13.

Right when she and her boyfriend, Jason Allen, were looking to open a cafe, an opportunity to return to their hometown area and re-open a downtown mainstay presented itself at 13 N. Vermilion St. in Danville.

The former Java Hut, which closed last year, was on the market.

UI on board with boosting minority firms

A new state program designed to give minority businesses easier access to millions of dollars' worth of information technology contracts is being used for the first time by the University of Illinois.

UI flash index tops 107 for third time in six years

URBANA — The University of Illinois flash index, a barometer of the Illinois economy, has topped 107 for only the third time since the 2007-09 recession.

The index had been hovering in the 106 to 106.8 range for more than a year, but in March the index surged to 107, up from 106.6 in February.

Champaign's Custard Cup: The final scoop

Afternoon update

— Let the record show that Custard Cup ran out of ice cream at 3:44 p.m. today, capping a wild final day of business at the Champaign hot spot. Staff writer Tim Mitchell is at the scene.

It's Your Business: Heel to Toe expanding

Heel to Toe is proceeding with its expansion in downtown Urbana, with plans for retooling one of its three stores there and adding a fourth.

The three stores already there include:

— Heel to Toe at 106 W. Main St.

— Birkenstock Concepts at 104 W. Main St.

— New Balance at 108 W. Main St.

Another new life

URBANA — The sanctuary of the former First Baptist Church of Urbana is very much unchanged from when the Baptist congregation worshipped here more than a decade ago.

Light still streams in from three directions through golden-tinged stained-glass windows, adding luster to the oak pews inside.