Vice President of News

Jim Rossow is vice president of news at The News-Gazette. His email is jrossow@news-gazette.com.

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Batting leadoff in our new video series on local business owners with stories to tell: Traci Lipps, co-owner of a just-opened downtown Champaign restaurant that already is drawing a crowd.

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Traci Lipps and Anthony Zilis on Thursday morning at Hank's Table in downtown Champaign.

The restaurant's name, Hank’s Table, is a tribute to Traci’s late husband.

Dr. Henry “Hank” Lipps was a physician at Christie Clinic who was fond of farming, antique cars and pina coladas. The wall decor and menu at 122 N. Neil St. make that crystal clear.

“He would have liked this place,” Traci said. “A comfortable, Midwestern atmosphere.”

A stay-at-home mom until Hank’s death in 2014 — their four children are now 23, 22, 17 and 10 — Traci has jumped feet first into the restaurant business (Willow Creek, The Wheelhouse, Pink Pig). “I never dreamed when he passed that I’d be doing this,” she said. “It’s fun, rewarding, challenging.”Hank’s Table opened for dinner in early July at a remodeled site that was V. Picasso. Soon, they’ll expand hours and begin serving lunch.

Traci told multimedia special Anthony Zilis why the midlife change in routine has been so rewarding.

“I’m a people pleaser,” she said, “and I love food. Who doesn’t like food?”

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Traci Lipps

News-Gazette