After counting on Red Lobster opening a restaurant at the North Riverside Park Mall, local officials — and the sales tax coffers — were left high and dry when the chain’s parent company, Darden Restaurants, decided to pull the plug last fall.

But there appears to be another possible suitor for the mall location next to Olive Garden in the east parking lot of the shopping center. North Riverside’s code enforcement officer, Karyn Byrne, said last week that Miller’s Ale House expressed “serious” interest in taking over the spot once occupied by a medical office building next to Olive Garden.

Miller’s Ale House is a Florida-based chain, which has about 60 locations in 10 states. The chain has only one other Illinois location: at the Yorktown Mall in Lombard.

According to Byrne, the restaurant chain’s director of real estate and development contacted North Riverside to ask for a list of contractors used for the recent Chick-fil-A restaurant.

“That indicates to me it’s a serious consideration,” said Byrne.

There is no lease for the property at this time, said Byrne, but those details could be worked out this year, pending approval by the Miller’s Ale House board of directors.

LongHorn going to Berwyn

Meanwhile, another Darden restaurant that long had been eyed for a spot in the north parking lot of Sears at the North Riverside Park Mall, will be built in Berwyn at the Cermak Plaza instead.

Construction on a 6,273-square-foot LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant is scheduled to begin in the next 4-5 weeks, said Heidi Schauer, manager of public relations for LongHorn Steakhouse.

Plans previously available on the website of the general contractor, Englewood Construction, indicated that restaurant would be built just east of McDonald’s in the parking lot of the Cermak Plaza, 7043 Cermak Road in Berwyn. The restaurant will be situated between McDonald’s and the two-way entry point to the shopping center near Maple Avenue.

According to Schauer, construction is scheduled to be completed by mid-December, though that timeline is dependent on other factors, such as weather.

In other Cermak Plaza-related news, Shoe Carnival has just inked a new long-term lease and McDonald’s is applying for building permits at this time to completely rebuild its store at the corner of Harlem and Cermak.

At the time the store was built in 1983 — as the “floating McDonald’s” — its celebrated design garnered a mention in the Dec. 24, 1984 edition of Newsweek. The design was later altered during a renovation project.

The plaza McDonald’s project will complete the company’s effort to rebuild all four of its Berwyn stores.