Champaign Williams

Staff Reporter (Retail, Hospitality, Nonprofits)

Champaign covers retail, hospitality, corporate philanthropy and nonprofit organizations.

Phone: 818-316-3121

Recent Stories

Owner Whips Up New Look for Chocolate Shop

CONFECTIONS: Remodel designed to promote new candies, ice cream.

When your establishment has been around since the 1970s without a remodel, change is well overdue.

DIY Weddings on a Budget

CATERING: Stonefire Grill supplied bargain meals for 600 marriage parties last year.

DIY weddings boost Stonefire Grill’s sales.

Taking a Hit

New tobacco laws thin the crowds at hookah bars

Smoking age is now 21. What’s in store for local hookah bars?

Preview: Taking a Hit

Smoking age is now 21. What’s in store for local hookah bars?

Guitar Center Appoints New President

Guitar Center Inc. has appointed a new president to oversee all aspects of the company’s operations.

Cheesecake Opens Shanghai Disney Restaurant

Cheesecake Factory Inc. expanded into Eastern Asia this month with the launch of its Shanghai location at Walt Disney Co.’s Shanghai Disney Resort.

Cycling Studio Spins Forward for Fundraising

FITNESS: Owner hopes to host monthly nonprofit event at the premises.

With the abundance of spin studios in the Los Angeles market, new cycling studio SoloCicla is late to the game. Still, the Studio City establishment has developed a niche it hopes will differentiate it from competitors.

The Stick-To-It Man

Mitchell Butier, new chief at label maker Avery Dennison, talks about building a durable company culture.

SoCal native Mitchell Butier talks teamwork and execution as the new head of label maker Avery Dennison Corp.

Campaign Paints Nails as Patriotic

Hues include ‘Pale to the Chief’ and ‘Madame President.’

Local nail polish maker capitalizes on election season to debut new colors influenced by politics.

Applebee’s Tab Tops $75 Million

RESTAURANTS: Brand revamp largest in the chain’s history.

Will new grills, new steaks and new staff training cook up a healthy rejuvenation for Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar?

Preview: Applebee's Tab Tops $75 Million

As consumer preferences continue to swing in favor of fast-casual restaurants, Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and other casual-dining chains are losing market share.

Cheesecake Serves Up Expansion

Cheesecake Factory is on a winning streak, and it announced it will expand in the Southeast.

Tech Firm Tries Travel Site Rewrites

Search engine ranking figures into content for hospitality clients.

Moravia IT expands from technology to travel website content creation.

Glendale a Good Home for Hotel Development

HOSPITALITY: Three projects are part of plan to make the city a ‘destination.’

A six-story boutique hotel proposed in downtown Glendale was unanimously approved by the city’s Design Review Board earlier this month.

Big-Screen Games Fill Cinema Seats

Simi theater offers alternatives to studio movies with popcorn.

Iconic movies and online interactive games lure audiences to Studio Movie Grill in Simi Valley.

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Walmart Preps Megastore Debut

RETAIL: Burbank location starts hiring for summer opening.

Three years delayed, Walmart is set to open its Burbank supercenter.

IHOP Expands in Panama

DineEquity Inc. has moved forward with a franchise agreement to launch six IHOP locations in Panama in the next five years – the first opened in Panama City on Monday.

Sports Authority’s 7 Valley-Area Stores Closing

Sports Authority’s decision announced earlier this week to shutter all of its more than 460 stores means seven Valley-area locations will close.

NetSol Names North American President

NetSol Technologies Inc. has named Jeffery Bilbrey as its president of North American operations, a new position at the company.

Applebee's Launches Marketing Makeover

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar announced Monday it has completed a $75 million overhaul of its menu in hopes of revitalizing the chain to increase foot traffic and boost same store sales.

Red Bull Run Stretches Along Santa Clarita Roads

FUNDRAISER: Event collects money for spinal cord research foundation.

Thousands of Santa Clarita residents participated in an innovative global charity race May 8 in support of the Wings of Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation.

Cosmetic Clean-Up

BEAUTY: With the Z Potter heater, consumers can reconfigure their makeup cases.

Z Palette inventor introduces depotting heater.

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Avery Expands Euro Label

Label maker Avery Dennison Corp. wants to label more of Europe.

Butter Dish Solves the Slippery Mess

Ex-homemaker puts product on shelves of Bed Bath & Beyond.

Buttering up: entrepreneur Joelle Mertzel’s new dish cleans up countertop.

Talon Reports Revenue Gains

Talon International Inc. beat analyst estimates on revenue in its first quarter earnings, and attributed the gain to strong performance from its trim products segment.

Cherokee Signs Up Licensees

Cherokee Global Brands has inked deals with new licensees to get its Cherokee brand on the shelves of U.S. retailers.

DineEquity Drops on Down Report

DineEquity Inc. on Thursday reported first quarter earnings and revenues that fell well short of analysts’ forecasts. The company’s stock dropped nearly 3 percent on a day when the overall markets declined only slightly.

Salem Misses on Earnings

Salem Media Group Inc. on Wednesday reported quarterly earnings that fell short of Wall Street expectations even though the company had a sizable increase in revenues due to the political season.

Restaurant Fills Plate With Tech

DINING: Cheesecake Factory sees mobile as recipe for success.

New mobile app adds icing to Cheesecake Factory’s foray into technology.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Entertainment Tenants Shrink Vacancy in Burbank

Both Burbank and Glendale saw an uptick in office investments in the first quarter.

Radio Money Talks

Salem Media hopes to give online financial advice to its on-air audience of Christians and conservatives.

Salem Media Group expands by offering its audience financial advice.

Failure to Specialize Behind Sport Chalet Closure

RETAIL: Originally a tennis and ski shop, the chain will shutter in bankruptcy.

With consumers growing increasingly health conscious, sporting goods are in high demand. But it seems some retailers still aren’t making the cut.

Cherokee Global Brands Expands Market Presence to Czech Republic

Cherokee Global Brands will enter the Czech Republic this fall through one of the country’s large retailers, the company recently announced.

Bank Appoints Manager for Valley Region

First Banks Inc. has appointed a regional manager for its Central Coast and San Fernando Valley locations, the bank announced earlier this week.

Sport Chalet to Close All Stores in Bankruptcy

Sport Chalet Inc. will close all existing stores in the coming weeks and has ceased its online operations effective immediately, parent company Vestis Retail Group announced Monday.

Cosmetics Firm Plays Name Game

Skincare line called Eclair Naturals to connote purity, luxury.

What’s in a name? For new Éclair Naturals skincare line, it conveys decadent food at everyday prices.

Feeling Heat

Eatery cooks up new roles for staff amid wage hikes

Encino restaurant cuts wait staff to mitigate rising labor costs.

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Executive Helps Students Further Education

MENTORING: James Castro’s future nonprofit will help youth get into college.

It’s a demanding time of year for high school seniors. Most are filling out college applications, taking mind-numbing standardized tests and waiting to hear back from their first-choice universities.

Women-Owned Valley Firms Make Fast-Growth List

Two San Fernando Valley companies made it on the Women Presidents’ Organization’s 50-fastest growing women-owned businesses list this year.

Cherokee’s Earnings Down but Beat Expectations

Cherokee Global Brands reported quarterly earnings that beat analyst estimates, attributing the gain in part to the recent acquisition of retailer Flip Flop Shops.

Salem Media Buys Another Finance Website

Salem Media Group on Monday announced it has acquired finance newsletter Retirement Watch, a website that offers advice and resources to retirees.

Wallet Maker Gets Glam With Oscars

Zekkle slips product into gift bags for award nominees.

Those pricey Oscar night gift bags includes Zekkle’s $39 wallets.

Riders’ Virtual Future

Six Flags looks to VR tech to shake up coasters

Magic Mountain and Samsung collaborate on virtual reality-enhanced roller coaster.

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Chefs Shape Cuisine Transformation at the Stand

RESTAURANTS: Encino chain encourages customers to try out-of-the-box flavors.

The Stand, a restaurant chain with a focus on American cuisine, has jumped on the trend of chef-driven menus and hopes to reap the rewards at its new San Fernando Valley location.

Preview: Riders' Virtual Future

Soon roller-coaster enthusiasts will be soaring through the air on fighter jets and shooting alien targets at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Viking Takes Delivery of Second Ocean Cruiser

Viking Cruises took delivery Thursday of its second ocean cruise ship, the Viking Sea, and will christen it on May 5 in London.

Exec Appointment at Princess Cruises

Santa Clarita’s Princess Cruises has appointed a new head of guest operations to help drive its marketing initiatives and offer new guest experiences.

Viking, the Cruise Line, Sponsors Viking, the Exhibition

Viking Cruises announced Monday it is sponsoring the Viking Exhibition, a showing of centuries-old artifacts that debuted in New York City’s Discovery Times Square museum last month.

Kohl's to Close Valley Store

Kohl’s Corp. has announced it will close 18 underperforming stores in the next quarter, one of which is in West Hills.

Cal Lutheran Professor: Keep Truckin’

Students learn by promoting on-campus mobile retail day.

Retail trucks visit Cal Lutheran University to help students learn event planning.

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