Radio Maria, a long beloved Downtown Champaign restaurant, and an institution by any measure, has allegedly closed for good. We posted about it being on sale earlier this year, but it seems as though brunch on Sunday was its final service.
It was indeed the very first of its kind when it opened in the early-mid 1990s. Downtown Champaign was still fairly empty, as far as this sort of business was concerned. Cafe Kopi had opened, and The Blind Pig was starting to really smoke as a destination venue. The Esquire was more like the Brass Rail, and there were remnants of an economy long past its prime on every corner: Dan's Hat Shop, Johnston's Sports Shop, Old Main Bookstore, etc etc.
Radio Maria was a bold move that gave Downtown Champaign some much needed aesthetic and style at a time when it had anything but. In the mid-00s, it expanded into the building to the south, turning itself into one of the hottest spots for nightlife around, hosting myriad events for DJs, and for salsa dancing, and more.
Personally, I have always loved their brunch, and I will be sad to see it go.
Something to note: this information has been taken from my social media feed, and from some private exchanges with people close to the situation. That makes it a rumor at the moment, and we've reached out for confirmation. If we get anything back, I will of course update the article.
That said, unless multiple people on social media who work there are all fabricating the truth, it appears as though it will not be reopening.
Photo by Patrick Singer