Moretti's and Whiskey River restaurants are on track to open in Hoffman Estates this November, bringing the number of eateries at the southeast corner of Higgins and Barrington roads back to five.
Village trustees Monday approved site plans for the two restaurants of Schaumburg-based Ala Carte Entertainment to fill the long-vacant buildings that originally housed a Max & Erma's and Lone Star, respectively.
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While Moretti's has been a success story for Ala Carte Entertainment with more than half a dozen other locations, Whiskey River is a new concept that's been worked on for years and will be opening its first location at 702 N. River Road in Mount Prospect in just a few weeks, Ala Carte Vice President Mark Hoffman said.
He added that the concept of Whiskey River is based on world-class barbecue with a honky-tonk flavor to its music and entertainment.
"Everything is going to be based on the finest, freshest food available," Hoffman said. "We're reinventing everything in our company all the time, and especially freshness. I'd rather run out of something later in the evening than serve something that needs to be reheated."
Coupling the new concept with the tried-and-true Moretti's was an easy decision, but the challenge with each new Moretti's is to make it better than fans remember from other locations, Hoffman said.
"Each new location is a flagship location," he added. "I aspire each one to be a little better. It's one of our strongest growth vehicles."
Hoffman Estates Economic Development Director Kevin Kramer said he hopes the two new businesses restore the synergy that was always intended at the five-lot restaurant campus. The existing restaurants, which survived the recession, are a T.G.I. Friday's, a Steak 'n Shake and Romano's Macaroni Grill.
Though Ala Carte is seeking eligibility for just over $900,000 for public improvements from the area's tax increment financing district, Kramer sees the company's interest as a sign of recovery in the restaurant industry.
Though Hoffman hasn't decided which restaurant to open first, he wants one to be on Nov. 1 and the other a few weeks later so as not to interfere with each other's grand openings.