URBANA — A restaurant opening next month at Lincoln Square not only will feature food from Africa but also will ship proceeds to support a hospital on that continent.
Mubanga Chanda, Betty Phiri and Oliver Chibwe of Champaign took possession of the former Piato Restaurant in the heart of Lincoln Square last Tuesday. They're transforming the space into the Stango Cuisine restaurant.
Chanda, Phiri and Chibwe are immigrants from Zambia, a country in east Africa along the famed Victoria Falls. They brought many of their favorite recipes with them to feature in the Urbana eatery.
"Upon coming to America, we always wanted to have our own restaurant," Phiri said. "We visited 48 of the 50 states searching for the right location, and we settled upon Urbana."The restaurant's featured menu items will include African beef stew, chicken curry and stewed sweet potatoes.
"We stew the sweet potatoes in a sauce with onions," Chanda said.
Chanda said she expects the restaurant to open by the end of January.
The trio is dedicated to helping a charity called the One Dream Foundation, which caters to the underprivileged in Zambia. Ten percent of all sales will go to a hospital that will serve people suffering from curable diseases, including malaria and diarrhea.
"Betty and I grew up poor," Chanda said. "We have been blessed enough in this country that we are able to share."
The eatery will also include a box where customers can drop money for the hospital project.
The restaurant will have six employees.
Meanwhile, Piato owner Kelly Lamb is in the process of moving that business to 804 E. Main St. in Urbana.