Ford City, the Ford-Lincoln dealership in Champaign, is considering a move north to the former Best Buy property on Anthony Drive in Champaign.
The move would put the dealership close to the Interstate 74 interchange with North Prospect Avenue, said Mark Pelafos, chief operating officer for Worden Martin Inc.
"We don't have a specific timetable at this point" for the move, Pelafos said.
"We have to settle on plans with the architectural firm and with Ford Motor Co."
But the former Best Buy property has been acquired, and a new building is expected to be erected there for Ford City.
Worden Martin agreed to buy the Ford franchise about four years ago and subsequently moved it from 200 Carriage Center to 300 Carriage Center, near the northwest corner of Neil Street and Devonshire Drive in Champaign.
Pelafos said Worden Martin agreed to move the Ford franchise to a new location when the company acquired it.
The new site is visible from Interstate 74, close to both the Prospect Avenue and Neil Street interchanges and accessible from both Anthony Drive and Marketview Drive.
Meanwhile, the city of Champaign is working on an agreement to provide incentives for future redevelopment of Carriage Center as a commercial site. Worden Martin's Buick-GMC franchise continues to be located at 100 Carriage Center.
Sundays on The Porch
Chef Curtis McGhee is offering Sunday buffets at The Porch in Campustown once or twice a month — and giving advance notice of the dates on Facebook.
The Porch opened inside The Clybourne at 706 S. Sixth St., C, last fall, replacing The Toasted Bean cafe.
"The owner, Scott Cochrane, let me re-concept the place and do a new thing," McGhee explained.
The "new thing" was Southern-style cuisine, including Cajun gumbo, po' boy sandwiches, brisket melts, blackened-chicken melts and cottage fries cooked with rosemary and basil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
Hours for The Porch are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. When the Sunday buffet is offered, it's from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
McGhee said he sought to fill what he perceived as a void in Champaign-Urbana for Southern and Creole foods.
"A lot of Northerners don't make our foods right," he said.
That may sound unusual coming from a guy who grew up largely in Urbana and Chicago, but McGhee said he spent summers in the South.
He was reared largely by his grandmother in the North, but his mother came from Tuscaloosa, Ala., and his father from Canton, Miss.
McGhee said he attended Urbana Middle School, Urbana High School and Parkland College before going to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago.
He subsequently served as sous chef and executive chef at Bella Lounge and as executive chef at The Pony — both in Chicago — before opening his own place, Nalyah's Soup Cafe, in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood.
McGhee said he once worked at The Clybourne, and an acquaintance told him Cochrane was considering a new project. So McGhee came for an interview and provided a sampling of what the menu could be.
"You can tell someone about your food all you want, but let them judge for themselves," he said.
McGhee said he began as chef last August, but didn't change the menu until October.
Look for some new menu items soon.
"I like to change my menus with the season," McGhee said, adding the next switch will probably come at the end of March.
The phone number for The Porch is 383-1008.
Changes at Aroma Cafe
Thursday will mark the first day of new ownership at Aroma Cafe in downtown Champaign.
New owners Alex Niizuma and Casey Hayasaki have acquired Aroma from Michael and Lisette Wells, who opened the cafe at 118 N. Neil St., C, in 2003.
Niizuma said she plans to introduce a new menu "with a little Asian twist" and offer pastries from Sweet Indulgence — but the coffee will remain the same. She also plans to add a children's play area, as well as a kid's menu.
Look for new furniture, different lighting and more live music in the weeks ahead. Plus, Niizuma said she plans to offer expanded catering.
Hours will remain 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Niizuma's business partner, Casey Hayasaki, is an executive chef on a cruise ship out of Hawaii. He's the son of Yoshi Hayasaki, the former University of Illinois gymnastics coach, Niizuma said.
Niizuma's husband, Jyunichi Niizuma, already has connections in the restaurant business. His family operates Kamakura Japanese Restaurant in Champaign.
Aroma's phone number, 356-3200, remains the same, but its website will be revised, Alex Niizuma said.
Mahomet gets new resale shop
Tami Tunnell and her sister, Roberta Morris — who operate the Community Green resale shop in Urbana — are opening a second resale shop in Mahomet.
The new shop, called C. Green 2, is expected to open Thursday in the former Curves space at Eastwood Plaza.
The shop will sell clothing, shoes, housewares, dishes, small appliances, books, DVDs, toys and some furniture, Tunnell said.
Hours will be 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
Proceeds from the shop will go to cover the shop's expenses and help people make their homes more energy-efficient, Tunnell said.
Donated items can be placed in a drop-off box in the plaza's parking lot, and pickup service will be available, she added. The address of the shop is 804 E. Eastwood Center, Suite 9, and the phone number is 202-1892.
Tunnell said people from the Mahomet area were good about supplying the Urbana shop.
"They've been so generous, we decided Mahomet was the next place we wanted to go," she said.
Hours at the Urbana store, located at 2200-A E. University Ave., are 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Tunnell said she eventually hopes to expand Saturday hours in Urbana, with an earlier opening at 10 a.m.
Wisecarver opens Freedom Tax Service
Longtime certified public accountant Bill Wisecarver is expanding his business, Wisecarver & Associates in Urbana, to include Freedom Tax, a full-service retail tax preparation firm.
For 26 years, Wisecarver has offered accounting, tax preparation, investment and financial planning services for small businesses and individuals. He formerly operated Liberty Tax Service in Champaign-Urbana.
Wisecarver & Associates and Freedom Tax are located at 1403 E. Washington St., U, in Freedom Plaza — once known as Washington Square Plaza.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
Freedom Tax handles walk-ins and appointments. Its phone numbers are 344-7196 and 344-5659.
Dulak Pilates to hold benefit for foodbank
The Dulak Pilates Center in downtown Champaign will hold a master mat class on March 8 to benefit the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.
The class, scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., will be led by Anthony Rabara, a Level 2 master instructor trainer who — like the center's owner, Janice Dulak — trained with Romana Kryzanowska.
During the event, Rabara will discuss his training and experience and will lead a Pilates mat class for clients and instructors. The public is welcome to attend and observe.
The center is at 44 E. Main St., Suite 102, C.
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