Panera to replace Mundelein's vacant Pizza Hut

A former Pizza Hut on Mundelein's south side will be razed and replaced by the town's first Panera Bread bakery and cafe, officials announced Tuesday.

The new, 4,156-square-foot restaurant will be built at 1575 S. Lake St., which is at the northeast corner of routes 45 and 60.

It'll be a stand-alone operation near the south end of the Townline Square shopping center, an L-shaped complex anchored by a Jewel-Osco supermarket. An Arby's restaurant and a Burlington Coat Factory store are among the other businesses in the center.

"This is fantastic news for Mundelein," Trustee Ray Semple said. "Not only do we get rid of an old building, but we gain a brand-new one. That's a win-win for the village."

The Panera will have drive-though service and outdoor patio seating. Plans call for a spring 2017 opening.

It's the latest dining development for Mundelein, which in recent weeks has seen the opening of a couple already-popular restaurants, In and Out BBQ and Tina G's, on the north side of town.

The Panera will be owned by Hamra Enterprises, a Missouri company that operates Panera, Wendy's and Noodles & Company franchises in Illinois and other states, as well as a Holiday Inn Express in Texas. Its holdings include 38 Panera cafes in the Chicago area.

"Our bakery-cafes have been embraced by many surrounding communities ... and we look forward to sharing the Panera warmth in Mundelein," President and CEO Mike Hamra said in a news release.

The restaurant won't sell alcoholic beverages, so a liquor license isn't needed. The owners aren't asking for any building variations, either, so construction should be a simple process, Mayor Steve Lentz said.

"The Panera Bread team and village staff worked together closely to finalize plans for a great-looking building on a very visible corner," Lentz said.

Pizza Hut operated on that corner from 1986 to 2012. Only flecks of the red paint that once covered the roof in Pizza Hut's trademark style remain.

Signs in the windows still acknowledge the business moved to 707 S. Lake St. in Mundelein.

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