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RANTOUL — A downtown Rantoul restaurant will no longer have to close to walk-in traffic when it receives a large catering order.
The village of Rantoul microloan committee last week approved a seven-year, $50,000 loan at 2 percent interest for C&C Kitchen.
Chef Curtis McGhee, who operates the restaurant at 107 E. Sangamon Ave. with his wife, chef Cameshia McGhee, said the money will be used to streamline operation of the eatery, which ultimately will result in more jobs.
“I just really need the equipment to upgrade the place to prepare the food more easily than I can already,” Curtis McGhee told the microloan committee. “I will be able to offer better service.”
The money will be used to expand the flat-top space in the business and purchase a pressure fryer system to prepare fried chicken, which will allow C&C to expand its operation.
Curtis McGhee said the restaurant has been unable to fulfill churches’ requests to cater large meals because C&C didn’t have the equipment. At other times, he has had to close to walk-in traffic so he can concentrate on a catering order.
“With the (new) equipment, I can hire people, and it will boost revenue. We won’t have to close when I have a big (catering order),” McGhee said.
He said the business also needs to change its air-conditioning system, which will reduce his summer power bills.
“They put the wrong air-conditioning units in the building,” McGhee said. “Instead of the air cycling on and off, it runs 24 hours a day. In the summer I have $2,000 (bills) just for power every month.”
McGhee said C&C is unique in its culinary offerings among downstate restaurants. And that means more people coming to downtown Rantoul.
“It draws people in,” he said, “and I just want to keep drawing them in to downtown Rantoul.”
Rebecca Motley, Rantoul community economic development director, said C&C will also see increased revenue from the sale of alcohol. The business is seeking a restaurant liquor license from the village.
The restaurant will also be increasing its hours to include evening meals.
McGhee said C&C will be open until at least 8 p.m. during the week and perhaps 11 p.m. on weekends, especially during “big events” like the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.
“He’s really generating a lot of traffic for downtown,” Motley said.
McGhee said when C&C offered a broaster special just before Christmas, “we did 250 pounds of fried chicken in three hours. You would have sworn we were a KFC.”
Every spot downtown was filled with cars, Motley said.
He said with the new equipment, the restaurant will be able to offer that daily.
The establishment originally opened as Java Connection — a ministry outreach of the Rantoul First United Methodist Church. The church undertook a major renovation of the property. A private investor bought the building from the church last year, and the McGhees are buying it from that person, Motley said.
In December, the village board also approved a redevelopment agreement with C&C, which resulted in the business receiving $13,000 through the village’s tax increment financing fund to install energy-efficient windows, a new door and new awning.
Loan approved for hair salon
In November, the microloan committee approved a seven-year, $50,000 loan at 2 percent interest for Bridget Schlueter-Rogers and Ariel Rogers, owners of Shear Excellence Salon at 1281 E. Grove Ave.
They are buying the former Century Cafe building at 105 S. Century Blvd. and plan to remodel it during the next 18 months and move the salon there.
Ariel Rogers is in the building trade, which will help keep remodeling costs down.