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Champaign has a new mural by Langston Allston

Champaign native Langston Allston recently completed a new mural at the North First Street Barber Shop (204 N First Street, Champaign).

According to the GoFundMe page that raised money for the mural:

Champaign-Urbana is a symbol of hopes and dreams, of opportunity, and forward-thinking. The goal is to commemorate the challenges and messages of 2020. The mural will have the theme of sustainability and will be decorated with details and symbolism relating to the environment. The mission is to inspire conversations about important topics.

Allston now lives and works in New Orleans, but you can find his murals all over C-U. Might we suggest taking an Allston Art Tour of C-U with your family?

Top image by Julie McClure.

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I picked up pizza and drinks from Pizzeria Antica, and it was wondrous

I don't know about you, but I am always looking for an excuse not to cook dinner. I picked up two pizzas (bianca and pistacchio), an Italian beer, and a bottle of Italian red wine the other night from Pizzeria Antica.

Pizzeria Antica specializes in Neapolitan pizza, baked at 800 degrees in huge Italian wood-burning ovens. The pizzas really hit the spot, and the drinks were a welcome addition to a night of no dishes.

Check out this interview we published with the owner of Pizzeria Antica here

Pizzeria Antica
10 E Chester St
M-Th 4 p.m to 8 p.m.
F S 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

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You should try the new coffee from Page Roasting

Page Roasting Company is debuting a new coffee this week from Balzac Brothers Importers. From Page owner/operator Erin Erdman:

"It is our primary mission to support as many farmers, importers, artists and small businesses as possible. Our good friend at Balzac sent us some absolutely phenomenal coffee samples and we had to bring this coffee to Champaign/Urbana."

According to Erdman, the Guatamalan coffee will bring notes of graham cracker, halva, plantain, semi-sweet chocolate, dark cherry, and cedar as you sip. 

Page Roasting coffee can be found in several locations around C-U, and you can order online and have it shipped or set aside for pickup at Flying Machine Avionics. Out and about? You can find it in these spots:

  • Flying Machine Avionics (202 S. 1st. St., Champaign)
  • Hopscotch (802 W. John St., Champaign)
  • Art Mart (1705 S. Prospect Ave., Champaign)
  • Commond Ground Food Co-op (300 S. Broadway #166, Urbana)

Photo from Page Roasting Company website. 

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Artist David Spears made a maquette of post boxes, and it should be further displayed

I happened upon this the other day, endlessly doom scrolling through Facebook, and I thought it was great. I like things that meet the moment, honestly. The immediacy of art, in this time particularly, adds a quick slice of value for me. 

You can read about what is happening with the post office, even locally, here if you want. But you should know by now. It's no secret what is happening. It's sabotage and it's literally happening in front of our faces. It is truly a radical moment. 

A photo of a small cardboard post box, with the name David Spears, written on it

Anyhow, David Spears continues to contribute to Champaign, and it's welcomed and I am grateful. When I asked him about his plans for the piece, he said he'd like to find the actual boxes to use, but in the end, he wants to display it on a grand scale, at least right now. It is a shame there aren't programs in place to offer assistance for our local artists when they get a great idea and work to put it to action. Perhaps someday soon, that will change. 

Photos provided by David Spears.

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There might be a Little Free Pantry in your neighborhood

In the last few weeks, I've noticed a few free pantries around Champaign. There's one on the corner of Union and Willis, and one on the corner of Daniel and James. The corner pantries are stocked with shelf-stable dry goods.

If you're in need, they are available to you. If you have items to donate, you can do that, too.

Are there little free pantries in your neighborhood? Send us the location and a photo.

Top image by Jessica Hammie.

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Looking good, Dr. Howard

As part of a massive renovation referendum passed in 2016, Champaign Unit 4's Dr. Howard elementary school was demolished and rebuilt. Demolition began in the fall of 2018; it appears that the finishing touches are happening now.

The new building looks fresh and, most importantly, stable. There are two small playgrounds (one out front, facing University, and one in a courtyard). My only negative observation is that the basketball court is a little small and sad, but it exists, and the concrete and the hoops are new. I'm sure parents, students, teachers, and staff will all be very excited to use this new space once it's deemed safe to do so.

Dr. Howard elementary school pictured from the northwest intersection of James and University. A new school building made of red brick with a glass stairwell with neon green stairs is pictured. In front of the school, on the right side of the image, is a fenced in playground. Photo by Jessica Hammie.  Photo by Jessica Hammie.

The backside of Dr. Howard elementary school in Champaign, pictured from West Park Avenue. There is a metal fence, beyond which is a courtyard with a playground. The building walls are made of glass, with a clear view into the two story building. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

Top image by Jessica Hammie.

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I want to take a bite out of this shark donut from Industrial Donut

Industrial Donut is offering this special shark donut in honor of Shark Week. The donut is one of their cake donuts with blue frosting, red icing, sprinkles, and a shark on top. 

A donut with blue frosting, red icing, sprinkles, and a shark on top sits in a clear, plastic carryout container. Photo from Industrial Donut's Facebook page.Photo from Industrial Donut Facebook page.

You have to pre-order this shark donut as a special order with a minimum of 24 hours advanced notice here. You can order coffee, build-your-own-donuts, a mini donut bar (donuts plus icing and toppings to assemble at home), and some of their other special donuts like Industrial Waste, PB&J donut, and their Oreo dirty donut here

They're open for carryout, curbside pickup, and delivery through GrubHub.

Industrial Donut
501 Commerce Drive
Savoy
M-Sa 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Have you tried the fun treats from Brittany’s Sweet Spot?

In honor of August being National Black Business Month, check out this local Black-owned home bakery: Brittany's Sweet Spot. She's baking cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and more right here in Champaign. She has been posting cake decorating videos on Facebook in addition to photos of her baked goods.

Check out this cake she made.

You can find her menu here. Be sure to follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Top image from Brittany's Sweet Spot Facebook page.

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I tried a Korean shrimp burger for the first time, and it was wild

I'm a fan of burgers, and C-U has an incredible offering of burgers. We've talked about the best 8 burgers in town, another list of seven burgers that didn't make the top eight, and C-U's veggie burgers. A popular burger in Korea is the shrimp burger, and now, NAYA has brought it to our midwestern college town. 

A burger with a crispy shrimp patty is sandwiched between a soft brown bun with tomato slices showing and a bit of lettuce below the patty. The burger sits on a plate next to a large pile of shoestring french fries. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I'd never heard of a shrimp burger, let alone tried one. So I tried one this weekend.

NAYA's shrimp burger had the weight of a regular burger. It had a plump, fried shrimp patty sandwiched between tomatoes and lettuce with wasabi mayo. The burger was wild because it was meaty and full of shrimp, but it reminded me of a tater tot — in a good way. It's a good choice if you want to try a different kind of burger.

NAYA
212 E Green St
Champaign
M-Sa 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.
 

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I tried the Deluxe Milkshake at El Oasis

I initially posted about this delight after seeing it on Facebook in early July, and a few weeks later, I took a trip to El Oasis to experience it for myself.

It was awesome.

A Deluxe Oreo milkshake at El Oasis in Urbana, Illinois. A large, clear, plastic cup contains an Oreo milkshake and is garnished with whipped cream, cookies, an ice cream pop. A blue straw and a long plastic spoon are stuck in the milkshake. A white person's hand holds the cup. Photo by Jessica Hammie. Photo by Jessica Hammie.

I chose the Oreo shake which was an Oreo milkshake garnished with two pirouette wafers, an Oreo cookie, a chocolate-dipped vanilla ice cream pop, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle. With tax the entire milkshake meal was $7.10, which might be the best $7.10 I've ever spent.

There are additional flavors including Ferrero Rocher and Gansito, and I may have to return for research purposes.

El Oasis
510 N Cunningham
Urbana
M-F noon to 9 p.m.
Sa + Su noon to 8 p.m.

Top image by Jessica Hammie.

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Dancing Dog’s cake game is strong

Earlier this year, in January, which was approximately 892 years ago, we made a video about Dancing Dog in Urbana. Among the highlights was the baking of a cake — the restuarant is vegan, so the baked goods are, too. The cake posts on social media over the last couple weeks have me seriously craving a slice.

Check out these beauties:

Banana Split Cake

Chocolate Sesame

Vanilla Lavender

126 W Main St
Urbana
Su + Tu-F 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sa noon to 3 p.m.
 
Top image from The Dancing Dog's Facebook page.
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You need to try one of The Bread Company’s breakfast sammies

Those of you who skip breakfast might want to reconsider. I got one of The Bread Company's breakfast sandwiches yesterday morning, and it was divine. I ordered the ham, egg, and cheese sandwich for $3.50. Fresh bread with a crunchy toast, fancy melted cheese, good ham, and a real freaking egg: this sandwich that made my whole day.

A half sandwich sits on a tin foil wrapper. The bread on the sandwich is toasted and darkened in spots with a bit of ham peeking out of the bread. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

You can choose from meat lovers options: bacon, egg, and cheese; ham, egg, and cheese; and sausage, egg, and cheese. They also offer veggie lovers options: mushroom, egg, and cheese; spinach, egg, and cheese; and tomato, egg, and cheese. All breakfast sandwiches are topped with dijonnaise and $3.50. 

A chalkboard reads: Breakfast Sandwiches with details on hours and pricing. It is leaning against a burgundy building, resting on the sidewalk. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The Bread Company
706 S Goodwin Ave
Urbana
M 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
T-F 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sa 3 to 9 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.