EDITOR’S NOTE: The Champaign Taffies closed in August 2015 and the building was demolished in May 2019. The family opened a restaurant in Mahomet that also later closed.
By Bethany Parker
It’s no secret that my kids haven’t always been the best at eating in public. If you have been around us much at all in the last decade you know that early on I employed tactics at our favorite fast food locales such as ordering at the drive through and then taking the food inside, only visiting said eateries during off-peak hours, etc.
So it was a most pleasant milestone when we reached the point of being able to eat at more than just a fast food joint, but an honest to goodness, order food while sitting at the table where you will eat that food, pay, and then leave. It’s taken quite some time to get us to this point and while we are still honing these skills, we’ve found a few locations where we can be in and out in less than an hour, the servers aren’t flipped out by the intensity of my kids and the food is good for all ages AND my picky eaters.
Our current favorite is an oldie but goodie in CU – sitting almost unnoticed on the east side of the Country Fair parking lot, it’s easy to miss Taffies Restaurant, but that would be a shame. Under new management in the last few years and recently renovated inside – same booths and tables, updated décor – we’ve found them to be a great place for this family of four to get a quick dinner after Tae Kwon Do or a lunch in the middle of a weekend day full of errands.
Sundays are usually pretty busy with the after-church crowd, so we avoid that time unless the kids are prepared for such an experience. The staff is usually able to negotiate my kids quirks and issues with skill – they see that I’m trying to teach my children to negotiate in the social waters and put up with them stumbling through ordering their own meals, asking for refills or showing them their latest Lego creation that they snuck in from the car.
Food comes out relatively quickly – we’ve never waited more than 15 minutes for our meals – so there’s no need for us to bring much with us to keep busy while waiting. They’ve got coloring pages and pencils so we play Tic Tac Toe and draw pictures while we wait.
The children’s menu is pretty standard – the usual chicken fingers, hotdogs and macaroni & cheese, but you get to mix and match the sides, which is something my kids find incredibly empowering. And the kids menu is listed alongside the regular menu, which might not seem like a big deal to an adult but to the 7 and 9-year-olds, this was a huge discovery.
It’s become a standard request on the weekends lately – “Mom, are we eating at Taffies after church or after grocery shopping?” It’s hard not to say yes when I know that there is a Reuben sandwich with my name on it, and it’s always fun to listen to the 7-year-old order a side salad and two big buttermilk pancakes to go with it.
Where: 301 S. Mattis Ave., Country Fair, Champaign (corner of Mattis and Springfield)
Phone: (217) 359-4201
Kids Menu: Yes
Hours: Open Daily, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner
Bethany, mom to the three wilds who, despite all of their recent growing up, still manage to leave Legos where she steps on them barefoot, marbles in their pants pockets and various food wrappers on the floor of the car.