Come Friday, there will be a new place for pizza in downtown Urbana.
Black Rock Pizza Co. is opening in the former Red Star Liquors space at 114 S. Race St., U. Longtime residents may remember it as the home of The Embassy tavern.
Co-owner Carl Crawford said Black Rock will offer both specialty and custom thin-crust pizzas for lunch, supper and late night.
The restaurant will also serve hot grinder sandwiches and salads, said business partner Steve Love.
Plus, it will have a signature item: chilled cocktail shrimp that will be displayed on ice.
Black Rock will be open seven days a week and feature live music during "happy hour" on Fridays, Love said. Various formats of music will be offered other days of the week.
The pizzeria will still feature the Embassy's classic back bar. But expect the place to be much brighter than in Red Star days and to have a few more TVs, Crawford said.
Black Rock will also have a few tables in front that people with disabilities may find easier to use than booths.
In addition to Crawford and Love, partners in the pizzeria include Danny Valkanos and John Kosmopoulos, who were partners with Crawford in Red Star.
Businesses take the Blue Line
One business has already moved into the Blue Line Station on North Neil Street in Champaign, and another plans to move there this summer.
Developer Jeff Mellander, who transformed the former Sports Publishing building at 804 N. Neil St. into residential and commercial space, said YG Financial Group and its YG Technologies division have taken space on the building's east side.
YG Financial Group continues to maintain its office at 115 W. Church St. in downtown Champaign, at least for now, said Hans Grotelueschen. president of the company. He said YG expanded to the new location because it needed extra space.
YG Financial provides business consulting and tax work for clients, and its technologies division provides business clients with technology support.
Meanwhile, Surface 51 has agreed to lease 5,000 square feet on the building's northwest side, with a target occupancy date of July 1.
"I couldn't be happier about them going there," Mellander said, describing the marketing firm as the kind of creative company he had in mind for the space.
Surface 51's entrance will be from Neil Street, while YG Financial's entrance will be from North Street. Surface 51 is now based at 309 S. Neil St., C.
Mellander said he's also in discussion with a prospective tenant who would like to use the southwest part of the building for offices.
All the apartments at Blue Line Station have been leased, he said.
Personal chef launches business
A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta has opened her own "personal chef" business in Urbana.
Kari Kramer started Bleu Harvest to prepare meals for clients in their homes.
"It's a personal-chef service that customizes meals for people based on their dietary needs and restrictions, their likes and dislikes," Kramer said.
"I go to their home and prepare whatever we decide on — anywhere from two to six meals," she said. "Each meal consists of an entree and side item."
Meals are packaged and frozen so clients can heat them later if they don't want to cook. Kramer handles the cleanup and shopping.
She said she can coordinate vegetarian, gluten-free and kosher meals, as well as meals for those on the Atkins diet. She can also prepare foods for in-house dinner parties and cocktail parties.
After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in 2008, Kramer moved to Switzerland and worked at the Domaine de Chateauvieux outside Geneva for eight months.
She later moved to the Washington, D.C., area, where she did private catering. Kramer said she moved to the Champaign-Urbana area because her boyfriend had work at the University of Illinois.
The price of Bleu Harvest meal packages varies, depending on how many meals are ordered and how many people each serves. Kramer said five meals, with four servings each, would cost about $175, plus the cost of groceries.
Ron Meyer is hosting what might be called a "Barbie bonanza."
Meyer, who periodically holds new- and used-toy sales at his place northeast of Urbana, is having a Barbie doll sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday..
Meyer amassed 200 new and boxed Barbies as well as 800 smaller Barbies, some dressed and others not. He also stocks Barbie accessories, including boats, cars, motor homes and furniture.
For those who like dolls other than Barbie, Meyer offers both collectible and common dolls.
The "Barbie sale" began Friday and Saturday and continues next weekend at 2812 E. Oaks Road, U. To get there, take U.S. 45 a mile north of Farm and Fleet, then turn east on Oaks Road and go about a mile. Meyer's phone number is 367-2327.
Starcrest on horizon for Rantoul
Starcrest Cleaners & Laundry will build a dry-cleaners/self-service laundry on U.S. 136 near Grove Street in Rantoul, reports Dave Hinton, editor of the Rantoul Press.
The building will be just east of the newly remodeled Dairy Queen.
Leo Hermes, president of Hermes Equipment Co., Bloomington, said his company is developing the site.
The dry-cleaning portion of the business will be owned and operated by Starcrest Cleaners & Laundry Group. The self-service laundry is expected to be operated by an outside party.
Construction is slated to begin about April 1, with a projected opening in mid-July.
Are you opening a new business or changing an existing business? 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.