The one vacant outlot remaining at the Costco development in North Riverside will be empty for the foreseeable future now that Famous Dave’s has pulled the plug on moving to the spot.
In a move that surprised village officials, the barbecue restaurant chain’s corporate office late this summer pulled the plug on moving its existing store at 7201 25th St. in the neighboring North Riverside Park Plaza to the outlot, which is located about 50 yards to the south.
Earlier in the summer, Famous Dave’s had submitted architectural plans for a 5,310-square-foot building with indoor and outdoor seating accommodating about 255 people. The village had sent its comments on those plans back to the company, which was slated to submit revised plans in August.
Famous Dave’s had already received its permits from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the village to begin infrastructure work, and the company told the village it hoped to have the new eatery open by Thanksgiving.
With its lease in the North Riverside Park Plaza set to expire in January, Famous Dave’s appeared to be itching to move to a larger location with more accessible and generous parking.
“It would have been a win-win,” said Karyn Byrne, the village of North Riverside’s code enforcement officer.
Byrne said that it was her understanding the company was sold. While that does not appear to be the case, the company underwent a significant corporate shakeup during the summer.
It’s been a rocky 2015 for Famous Dave’s, with its stock price plummeting from almost $35 per share a year ago to $12 a share by the beginning of October.
The company’s started overhauling its top leadership in June with the termination of Ed Rensi as its CEO after 18 months on the job. Adam Wright, a member of the board of directors, took over as interim CEO.
In July, Famous Dave’s added four new faces to its board of directors and named a new chairman of the board.
It appears those changes had a direct effect on the company’s plans in North Riverside.
Instead of moving, said Byrne, Famous Dave’s has renewed its lease at the North Riverside Park Plaza, which is owned by a company connected to Tony’s Finer Foods. The length of the lease is unknown.
For now, there’s no replacement for Famous Dave’s at the outlot site, though there has been some interest, according to Byrne. Because Red Robin, which occupies one of the other outlots, has a non-compete clause in its deal with the property’s owner, another burger-type restaurant won’t be coming in.
Byrne said the village has heard that a Louisiana-based chicken restaurant chain had expressed some interest, but it’s unclear how serious that inquiry was.
All four outlots along Harlem Avenue adjacent to Costco are owned by Pinecrest Associates.
Monroe Investment Partners sold its interest in the outlots to its partner, Pinecrest, in March for $500,000. The two companies had jointly owned the entire 20-acre site prior to the construction of Costco. After selling 16-acres to Costco for the development of that store, the two companies retained ownership of the outlots.