December 7, 2022
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It’s Your Business | Courier Cafe’s new owners plan to maintain iconic charm | Restaurants

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Kim and Bill Colbrook have been longtime customers and fans of the iconic downtown Urbana restaurant The Courier Cafe.

They continued dining there — in a tent— when pandemic restrictions forbid indoor dining, and they celebrated the reopening of the dining room.

They love this place so much, in fact, that when they heard owner Allen Strong was looking for a buyer, they decided to become the new owners themselves.

They understand what The Courier Cafe and its vintage charm means to the community, and have kept the employees and all the traditional favorites on the menu, they said.

“We just want to be good shepherds of this place and just keep Urbana strong,” Bill Colbrook said.

The Colbrooks, of Urbana, became the official owners of The Courier Cafe Monday, and put in their first day on the job at the restaurant Tuesday.

Kim Colbrook has retired from her former career as a nursing home administrator, a field in which she worked for 40 years.

Bill Colbrook got a degree in criminal justice from Illinois State University, first worked in law enforcement for Pontiac police and then worked for Illinois state police for 26 and a half years, retiring as a captain.

He went on to serve as Parkland College police chief for seven years and is currently director of administration in Champaign County Executive Darlene Kloeppel’s office, continuing to help out in that capacity until he can be replaced, he said.

The Colbrooks, who have been married 15 years, have a blended family with three adult children and six grandchildren, and both worked in restaurant jobs when they were younger.

Bill Colbrook worked for restaurants in high school and college, starting out as a dishwasher and working his way up to a cook, so he’s well familiar with restaurant kitchen operations, he said.

As a longtime nursing home administrator, Kim Colbrook has overseen dietary operations and is well familiar with food service regulations, she said.

“This is a breath of fresh air, compared to running a nursing home,” she said.

While the Colbrooks plan to keep The Courier Cafe’s menu favorities, among them its salad bar, milkshakes and homemade cookies and brownies, they’re also planning to restore the menu to its pre-pandemic level and add some new options, such as serving breakfast all day and a Sunday roast beef dinner, Kim Colbrook said.

The Colbrooks are also in the process of hiring more staff with a goal of getting the restaurant back to its longer, pre-pandemic hours. Their goal is to be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., they said.

“We feel so blessed to be the operators and owners of such an iconic place,” Kim Colbrook said.

Grand opening set

Heavy Spoon, the new cereal and ice cream bar that’s been under construction in downtown Champaign, will hold its grand opening Nov. 19.

On grand opening day, the restaurant at 118 N. Neil St. will be open to the public for three hours, from 2-5 p.m. then will be open regular hours starting Nov. 21, according to owner Sherard Brown.

Hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Brown said the menu will include waffles, milkshakes, ice cream, cereals, cereal rolls (cereal rolled in marshmallow) and cereal and marshmallow pops.

Beware of scam

The Central Illinois Better Bureau issued a warning this past week about a scam that could pick up during the holiday season.

This scam involves someone calling, emailing or texting you claiming to be a mail carrier or parcel delivery service and telling you they were unable to deliver a package to your home.

If you don’t recall ordering anything, you may be told the package is a gift from a friend or family member. The emails look legitimate with official logos and professional language, the organization said.

You’ll be asked to verify personal information or provide your credit card number to reschedule a delivery, or to click on a tracking link sent in an email — except you may be downloading malware.

Some tips from the BBB:

— Never click on links in unsolicited emails, even if they look official.

— Never give out your personal information to stranger.

— Track all your expected packages, to decrease the chance that you can be fooled by a scam.

— Remember package delivery companies won’t contact their customers on an unsolicited basis via phone or text.

Helping Red Kettle drive

If you shop at Schnucks, you can help raise money for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle drive this holiday season.

Through Nov. 23 you can round up your purchases to the nearest dollar, or at self-checkouts you can choose a $1, $3 or $5 “scan and give” option, company said.

Schnucks Rewards members can also donate their rewards to the Salvation Army.

All round-up donations will support the Salvation Army in your home community, according to Schnucks. Last year, Schnucks’ round-up campaign raised $266,000 for the Salvation Army, the chain said.

Schnucks also announced this past week that its stores will be closed on Thanksgiving day and on Christmas day.

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