Red Robin, the gourmet hamburger chain, has finalized a lease agreement with Monroe Investment Partners to be the first outlot tenant on the northwest corner of 26th Street and Harlem Avenue in North Riverside.

Karyn Byrne, the village’s code enforcement officer, confirmed that Red Robin and Monroe have agreed to terms and that Red Robin will take possession of the outlot on Jan. 1, 2014.

The restaurant will be located on the lot immediately south of the new entrance drive constructed along Harlem Avenue for Costco, which opened Monday. Byrne said there was no information on any other possible tenants for the remaining outlot spaces.

However, Monroe has apparently approached the village about receiving permission to begin pouring a foundation for the multi-tenant space planned for the southernmost outlot. But, said Byrne, the company has not moved forward yet with that request.

Construction of the Red Robin restaurant will begin in early 2014. According to Byrne, work is expected to take 120 days, with another 30 days to train staff. Byrne said the restaurant will likely open in mid-summer 2014.

Red Lobster on hold

Meanwhile, another restaurant thought to be a lock for North Riverside now appears to be in a holding pattern.

For more than a year, village officials were confident that Darden Restaurants was going to bring in Red Lobster to occupy a site next door to Olive Garden, which the company operates on an outlot at the North Riverside Park Mall, 7501 Cermak Road.

A former medical office was to be razed and a Red Lobster built in its place. The company received approvals from the village and had sought demolition permits for the existing building.

But now village officials fear the deal might be dead.

“We believe Red Lobster is permanently on hold now,” said Byrne.

A call to North Riverside Park Mall’s general manager, Harvey Ahitow, was not returned.

According to Byrne, Darden Restaurants is re-evaluating plans to open new Red Lobster restaurants amid reports of weak sales.

However, said Byrne, Darden is still hoping to open a LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant at North Riverside Park Mall. Negotiations regarding that deal have been under way for more than a year.

Initially, Darden proposed locating the steakhouse in the parking lot immediately north of Sears. It’s not clear whether the apparent decision to pull the plug on Red Lobster has altered those plans.