It's nearly candy-cane-making time for Pete Vrinios and his family, and they plan to carry on their 110-year-old tradition in downtown Champaign for the holiday season.
You can see Vrinios candy canes made step by step in the front windows of Jim Gould Restaurant at Neil and Main streets, starting the first weekend in December. Kids can even hook their own candy canes, Vrinios said.
"People driving by will see it. People walking by will see it. People sitting inside at tables will see it," he said.
The Vrinios family plans to make six flavors of candy canes this year, including a new one, chocolate mint, in a green and brown candy cane.
Other flavors include traditional peppermint in red and white, and red, green and white; an orange flavor in Illini colors; a cherry flavor in red, white and blue; a root beer flavor in brown and white; a wintergreen flavor in green and blue; and a cinnamon in yellow and red.
The candy cane-making at Jim Gould will continue each weekend in December before Christmas from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
The Vrinios family, which formerly made candy canes under an Americanized version of their name, Vriner, expects to make thousands of candy canes in a few weeks and sell them at the restaurant and several other locations in Champaign-Urbana – Sun Singer Wine & Spirits, Walnut Street Tea Company, Sweet Indulgence bakery, The Cake Artist's Studio, International Galleries and Kitchens – plus the Mahomet IGA store, Vrinios said.
Grand Kids, opening Thanksgiving weekend at 125 N. Garrard St. in Rantoul, is the store that owner Lori Izard says she's been dreaming about for 20 years.
Designed for teachers and parents, it will sell educational games, toys and classroom decorations, and is especially geared to elementary students and teachers.
Izard has a master's degree in elementary education and is also working on a master's degree in family and consumer science at Eastern Illinois University, she said. She has worked for the school systems in Urbana and in Dallas, Texas, and has also worked in the human resources field, she said.
Her store will open Nov. 28, the Friday after Thanksgiving, and will have extended hours through Dec. 31 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.
After Jan. 1, the store will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Izard said.
Plans proceeding for new bank
Dewey State Bank hopes to have a new replacement bank building under construction next year at the southeast corner of Dewey-Fisher Road and U.S. 136.
The bank's longtime location is too small to accommodate such features as a drive-up or walk-up window or a night depository, said bank Chairman Arthur Murray.
"We'd like to build a facility that would at least bring it into a more modern age," he added.
People in the Dewey area support the bank, Murray said, and bank officers want to give them a nice building.
The bank has an option on 5 acres at its chosen corner and is awaiting final approval on a rezoning, Murray said. Plans aren't finalized for how the building will look, but it will probably be less than 3,000 square feet and have drive-up windows, he said.
Illini Currency Exchange has moved from its longtime Campustown location to 1302 N. Prospect Ave., C, by the Dunkin' Donuts shop.
Robin Martin, an owner of the business since 1977, said he offers vehicle title service and renewal stickers, money orders and transfers, check cashing, Visa debit card and bill-payment service, and is a Western Union agent.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Calling all models
Cupcakes on Walnut, a gourmet cupcake shop at 114 N. Walnut St. in downtown Champaign, is inviting all aspiring models – no experience necessary – who love cupcakes and fashion to pose for its first annual cupcake girls calendar.
A model call has been set for 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the shop, and girls and women of all ages are invited to try out to become one of the 12 chosen cupcake girls of the month, said owner Amanda Bates.
The pictures will be tasteful, she promises. Those trying out on Monday will pose for Polaroid shots, and the chosen 12 will be featured in professionally shot photos wearing outfits provided by Urban Outfitters and Jennifer North boutique.
Bates said she hopes to print 1,000 calendars, to be available for sale before Christmas.
She also plans to donate 10 percent of the proceeds to the Champaign Downtown Association to help promote downtown businesses, she said.
Are you opening a new business or changing something at your existing business? Debra Pressey can be reached by phone at 351-5229 or 800-252-3346; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.