Smile Politely

Caffe Paradiso Changes Owners

Coffee drinkers: Perk up your ears.

Beloved Urbana coffeehouse and hipster study spot, Caffe Paradiso, changed ownership over the weekend. Café co-founder and owner Melissa Fanella had been looking to sell the business for the past year.

The café first opened in 1998 with partner Geoff Merritt of Parasol Records and That’s Rentertainment. The café soon housed an extension of the John St. movie rental store, first in the seating area and then in the rental space adjacent to the cafe. After it ceased operations, Fanella continued to run the café with the help of the employees that had been on staff since its opening.

As for the future of the café, Fanella seems confident that the new owners, a South Korean couple who owned a café in Seoul until recently, will remain dedicated to the original ambiance and current business model for some time.

“The impression I get is that nothing is changing — at least in the immediate future.” Fanella says.

In addition to its status as a favorite hangout for Urbana campus dwellers, the café has doubled as a live music venue, playing host to numerous touring bands over the years, including Braid, Joan of Arc, Mates of State, Owen, Aloha, The Ponys and many more.

More details will be available in the coming weeks and there is, according to current employees, talk of the new owners putting in an in-house coffee roaster.

Caffe Paradiso is located at 801 S. Lincoln, Urbana.

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