It's Your Business: Comfort food stars at Uncle Jack's

Cold weather often calls for comfort food.

And comfort food like pancakes and pot roasts are on the menu at Uncle Jack's, one of the newest restaurants in Champaign.

The restaurant, at 2501 Village Green Place, is just north of Jupiter's pizzeria and billiards in the Village at the Crossing development at the southwest corner of Windsor and Duncan roads. It opened Jan. 12.

In addition to breakfast foods like pancakes, menu options include pastas, fried chicken, meat loaf and pot roast. Fish and chips are served daily.

"It's comfort-food based," said owner Carlos Nieto.

The restaurant does have a bar and, if you like a little drink with your steak and eggs, you can order mimosas or Bloody Marys.

The restaurant also has a paging system, so kids can ride the elevator downstairs to Jupiter's game room and play some skee-ball or air hockey while you wait for a table. The restaurant also plans to offer seating areas for larger groups soon.

Initially the idea was to open a pancake house called Uncle John's, but over time the plan evolved into a family-friendly restaurant that served breakfast all day but also offered lunch and dinner options, according to Nieto.

There was an Uncle John's pancake house in Champaign about 40 years ago (prior to Aunt Sonya's), but the two are not connected by ownership or concept, Nieto said.

In addition to the other Nieto-owned restaurants in Village at the Crossing – Jupiter's and the sports bar Billy Barooz – the center has several ethnic restaurants, Nieto pointed out, including a Mediterranean, Italian and Chinese restaurant.

"After talking to our customer base, we felt we needed more of a family restaurant, one with larger seating ... and one that is a little quieter than a sports bar," he said. "We felt that's what the market was really clamoring for out there."

Uncle Jack's is open 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

The restaurant can be reached at 366-9222 and www.eatatunclejacks.com.

Vintage clothing, collectibles

Le Shoppe, a vintage clothing shop at 110 E. University Ave., C, will reopen under a new name and new ownership next month.

Stanley Lee purchased the business in December and is hoping to open So Called Junk on Feb. 1.

He will sell vintage clothing and costumes, but he also plans to add antiques and toy collectibles to the sales racks.

An Alabama native who has been in East Central Illinois for 10 years, Lee is a former Supervalu employee who has been collecting and selling online for the last few years.

"I decided I wanted to go into work for myself," he said.

A frequent visitor to garage sales, auctions and estate sales, Lee has amassed collectibles such as ventriloquist dolls and Star Wars memorabilia.

He is in the process of painting and reorganizing the store.

The store's number will remain the same at 398-1520. The store will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Attention: glam girls

Girls, you have until midnight tonight to submit a video to win a chance at having a birthday party at Cakes on Walnut, the Champaign cupcake bakery at 114 N. Walnut St.

Cakes on Walnut and www.chambanamoms.com are seeking a "Sweet Party Girl." The winning girl will help create a glam birthday party, and she'll win an event for five of her friends. Girls ages 8 to 12 years old are invited to create a two-minute video showing why they would make the perfect "Sweet Party Girl." The video, done with parental permission, should be uploaded to YouTube by midnight and marked public. Then a link should be sent to editor "Sweet Party Girl Entry."

Finalists will be invited to Cakes on Walnut for interviews the week of Jan. 25, and the winner will be announced Feb. 1.

Are you opening a new business or changing an existing one? Christine des Garennes can be reached by phone at 351-5388 or 800-252-3346; by e-mail at cgarenne@news-gazette.com; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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