802 W. John St.
by Sara Seed
Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you my middle name should’ve been ‘sweets’ not Sue. (Yes. My middle name is Sue. Therapy has helped.) I couldn’t survive without baked goods. Potato chips, popcorn, crackers? Boring.
Cookies, pies, cupcakes? Nirvana.
So, when Chambanamoms.com offered me the opportunity to write a review on the brand new Hopscotch Bakery and Market, I was ecstatic because I knew this would be a “sweet” assignment.
As I drove upon the quaint little neighborhood in the center of Champaign and arrived where Hopscotch is located, 802 W. John St. (on the corner of Pine and John Streets) and arrived I felt like I was watching a scene from a Hallmark movie.
There were families of all sizes and ages, some pushing strollers. Friends out for a walk. An older couple holding hands as they crossed the street. Kids riding their bikes up and down the street without a care in the world. And, the groom’s half of a bridal party on his wedding day stopping by to grab a bite before taking that long walk down the aisle and posing for a million photos. (So, in going with the theme of the day, I also took their picture.)
The only thing missing was someone actually playing the game of hopscotch on the sidewalk in front of the store; just looking at the storefront makes one smile.
So, I yelled, “cut” in case anyone was filming and crossed the street to see for myself what all of this “Hopscotch hype” was all about.
Upon entering it is immediately apparent this isn’t your typical bakery. From the artsy yet cozy decorum; to the gifts one can purchase; to the locally produced and made items for sale; to the unique seating arrangements; the coffee and drink selections, to the wide variety of baked goods they offer and made fresh on a daily basis, there is something for all ages and tastebud preferences.
The atmosphere? It has the vibe of a trendy coffee shop/ book club meeting/ corner store you’d shop at in the 60’s/neighborhood hangout. The background noise is somewhat muted and is a combination of laughter, coffee grinding and multiple conversations. There’s even a couch – an orange couch. I truly expected Ross and Rachael (Friends, anyone?) to appear at any moment.
Now, to my favorite part. The sampling of the baked goods and drink specials! The variety is quite eclectic and diverse. These aren’t your mom’s recipes but rather modern day spin-offs and other creative takes from the many favorites of the past. It’s the same with many of the cookies, cupcakes, dessert bars and cakes.
The cakes are simply stunning and are edible forms of artwork. They’re almost too pretty to cut and could also serve as centerpieces for any party or special occasion – birthdays, weddings (especially weddings), baby showers and more. The owner, Kaya Tate, has such a special talent and her vision for her creations (including the brick-and-mortar bakery concept itself) is truly remarkable.
I decided to try the Hummingbird Tea Cake and the drink special of the day, Fresh Pineapple Italian Soda. The presentation for both was on point and quite tasty even if I am more of a traditional sweet fanatic. I also tried a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie which normally I’d go vertical on but were a little dry and the Banana Custard Cup which was, well, a fancy name for banana pudding laced with vanilla wafer cookies.
I found the prices to be on the higher end and the portions aren’t very large. Hopscotch Bakery and Market also serves the usual coffee drinks but for some reason don’t serve any decaf coffee. Perhaps that will change.
Other selections that were selling well during my visit were Carrot Cupcakes (which I consider a vegetable serving so go for it); rich looking
Salted Caramel Coconut Macaroons; slices of Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, and a very popular Almond Bread Pudding with a Coffee Glaze. They even offer some vegan selections. Smart decision.
Hopscotch Bakery and Market is a welcome and fresh addition to the Champaign-Urbana community. If you haven’t tried it yet take some time and check it out. Plus, you’ll be a movie extra. Added bonus!
Sara Seed is currently Director of Promotions for Rodems Golf. She’s also a Personal Stylist for J Hilburn Men’s Clothier. She co-authored a self help book, “Living Your Life with Purpose in the Real World.” She is a proud aunt who lives in Champaign.