The city of Urbana was incorporated about 200 years ago. From the beginning, Urbana had a thriving, bustling downtown scene, with new buildings added all the time. Now the structures are old, respected and protected. Historical landmarks dot the city, and one such landmark is Crane Alley restaurant. The building was built in the late 1800’s, and was first a J.C. Penny’s. Then, after many years as a department store, the building became a Masonic Lodge. After a small opera house thrived in the space, Crane Alley opened in 2003.
Owner Scott Glassman has been working hard since then to make his dream of a full bar and restaurant come true. Scott started working in the restaurant business as many young people do–looking for work during college. He started bartending, got to be pretty good at it, and decided to strike out on his own. He said to himself, ‘Do it early, so you can fail early and recover” since you “have a lot more to lose” when you open a restaurant after you have a family. Scott’s biggest desire was to own a full bar that also had a full-size fine-dining restaurant.
Not only does Crane Alley serve food and every drink known to humankind, they have star-quality staff as well. “A lot in this industry is everyone for themselves,” Scott said, “but here, we are family. We work and look out for each other.” Scott describes his employees as “close knit.” He says, “I couldn’t have done it without them.” Scott and his staff have worked to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere–he wants people to be comfortable and at home within the space. Crane Alley is also focused on the community, supports local events including First Fridays and Imbibe Urbana, and hosts poetry slams in the bar to keep community members engaged.