Dessert shop specializing in Asian treats coming to Wheeling

A dessert shop with an Asian flair is coming to Wheeling's Restaurant Row.

Mochinut could open next spring at 322 N. Milwaukee Ave., village officials said Thursday. It's part of a national operation that launched in California in 2019.

A traditional Japanese snack, mochi is a rice cake pounded into paste and molded into a desired shape. Mochinut's specialty is a dish that combines a mochi doughnut with ice cream.

The menu also will include boba tea drinks, Korean-style corn dogs, coffee drinks and more.

Mochinut is taking over a vacant building last occupied by a home contracting business called Siding-1 Roofing-1 Exteriors. Naperville entrepreneur Grace Ryu has purchased the building and will convert it into the restaurant.

The village board on Monday approved a $45,606 municipal grant for renovations that will include construction of a kitchen, new interior walls, new floors, lighting work and exterior landscaping improvements.

The grant will come from Wheeling's Retail and Restaurant Build-Out Assistance Program. Through that effort, business owners or property owners are reimbursed for up to half a project's cost.

The board approved the grant without questions or opposition.

On Thursday, Trustee Mary Papantos said she was happy to welcome a new business to Restaurant Row, which essentially runs along Milwaukee Avenue between Lake-Cook and Hintz roads.

"Establishments that offer excellent, unique or diverse cuisines made Restaurant Row what it is, and (Mochinut) will help strengthen its reputation," Papantos said.

Village Manager Jon Sfondilis similarly was excited.

"The village of Wheeling is thrilled that this emerging concept chose Wheeling's Restaurant Row as their next location," he said.

Thirty-nine licensed and independently owned Mochinut shops operate in 21 states, documents indicate, including one in Chicago. In the Chicago area, shops are planned for Arlington Heights, St. Charles, Glenview, Naperville and the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

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