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updated: 9/7/2017 6:39 PM

Burger joint, chicken restaurant opening soon in Wheaton

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  • The Romano's Macaroni Grill in Wheaton has remained closed since a January 2016 fire.

      The Romano's Macaroni Grill in Wheaton has remained closed since a January 2016 fire.
    Katlyn Smith | Staff Photographer

  • Another version of The Burger Local, shown here in Geneva, may soon be opening in downtown Wheaton.

      Another version of The Burger Local, shown here in Geneva, may soon be opening in downtown Wheaton.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

The dining scene in Wheaton this fall will welcome Geneva restaurateurs opening a high-end burger joint downtown and a Florida fast-casual chain making its first foray into the Midwest.

But the status of a veteran player -- closed since a January 2016 fire -- is unclear. The city council this week yanked the liquor license for Romano's Macaroni Grill as the chain's corporate headquarters keeps a tight lid on plans for the shuttered Italian restaurant.

Here's a closer look at those developments around town:

Burger Social

Where: Renovations are underway to convert a long-vacant interior design shop into a close replica of Geneva's The Burger Local in a downtown storefront at 108 N. Hale St. The block already is home to the Ivy Restaurant, Front Street Cantina and Gia Mia, a popular spot that also has another location in Geneva.

Plans: The city's liquor control commission will review an application for Burger Social's license during a public hearing Sept. 14. The owners have told the city the restaurant will seat 102 diners on two floors. The restaurateurs also own Barrel + Rye, a whiskey bar and bistro in Geneva, and Maize + Mash in Glen Ellyn.

They have not yet indicted to the city when they plan to open, but Burger Social could debut later this fall, said Jim Kozik, Wheaton's economic development director.

PDQ

Where: Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the chicken restaurant in the Danada Square East shopping center now anchored by a Whole Foods, which opened in January.

Developers razed an old IHOP restaurant that had stood vacant since 2014 to make way for the new building and a drive-through.

Plans: The Florida-based chain is expected to open the Wheaton restaurant Sept. 24. A PDQ in Schaumburg also is under construction.

Menu: Almost exclusively focused on poultry. Patrons have their pick of chicken salads, chicken and turkey sandwiches and chicken tenders. PDQ -- short for "People Dedicated to Quality" -- is a nod to the restaurant's fresh, not frozen, chicken.

Romano's Macaroni Grill

Where: City officials say they were under the assumption the restaurant would reopen after restoration work to repair damage from a fire that broke out more than a year ago. The blaze was confined to an area around a wood-burning oven.

Crews also were making progress on significant remodeling to the rest of the inside of the building near Danada shops.

But that project slowed considerably earlier this year. Today, the restaurant's windows are boarded up, and there's no construction activity.

Macaroni Grill had been a fixture at Naperville Road and Blanchard Circle since the mid-1990s.

"It's definitely missed, I think," Kozik said.

Plans: The chain envisioned renovating the Wheaton restaurant into a prototype for its other franchises.

"This was going to be the kind of latest and greatest in terms of the interior," Kozik said.

In an email to city officials late last month, the chain's executive vice president for franchise and development said the company was evaluating the project and in discussions with the landlord about "various options," Kozik said. Macaroni Grill has a land lease on the property.

City planners haven't had any exchanges with the company since.

"We have not heard yet what they're doing," Kozik said.

The council on Monday agreed to rescind the liquor license, with a memo to members citing "the delays experienced in reopening the restaurant."

"It's a way to encourage them to take some action," Kozik said.

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