Empire Burgers, Ancho & Agave among new restaurants headed to Yorktown Center

The dining scene around Yorktown Center is heating up with an influx of new restaurants that represent the future of mall food.

Among them are Naperville-bred Empire Burgers + Brew and the first Chicago-area Ancho & Agave, a taco and tequila spot with a following in downstate Bloomington. Both are slated to open in 2024.

“This is just the first of multiple announcements that we're going to be making in the next few months about future additions to Yorktown Center,” general manager Josh Dean said.

The new restaurants are part of a larger overhaul of the Lombard mall. Owner Pacific Retail Capital Partners is teaming up with Chicago-based Synergy Construction Group on a revitalization plan that aims to bring hundreds of new apartments and a Main Street-style plaza lined with outward-facing shops to Yorktown, one of the first enclosed shopping malls built in the Western suburbs.

The vacant Carson's department store is slated for demolition to make way for a new mall entrance and green space. Dubbed Yorktown Reserve, the residential development alone is valued at more than $200 million.

“It's really created a buzz around here from all the retailers to customers, the village,” Dean said. “Everybody just seems to be on board with it, which is great for us. It's been nothing but positive feedback and really just optimism as to what the whole project is going to look like in the next few years.”

Other traditional indoor malls from Vernon Hills to Aurora are turning large swaths of dead retail space into high-end housing and upscale restaurant rows to bring back customers who went online. The Yorktown development team intends to create a parklike plaza in place of Carson's to link the planned apartment complex with the 1.2 million-square-foot mall.

“With all the new excitement around the development, we really have a lot of interest in the center in general,” Dean said.

Here's a sampling of what you can expect to find at the mall, both now and in the coming months.

Empire Burgers + Brew

The Empire Restaurant Group has become just that: a growing empire.

In downtown Naperville, the Cullen family crafted their flagship Empire restaurant out of a riverfront building, old whiskey barrels and barnwood. Empire is known for deluxe, angus beef burgers, craft beers, live music and a lively rooftop patio.

The family plans to expand the concept with a second Empire Burgers + Brew set to open at Yorktown next spring. Empire will take over the Rock Bottom restaurant building along Highland Avenue.

“We're envisioning them having a rooftop area and some outdoor and indoor dining options,” Dean said.

The Lombard menu also will serve up burgers, sandwiches, small bites and sweets.

Ancho & Agave

The Mexican restaurant is expected to make its debut in the Chicago suburbs in mid-to-late summer 2024.

Ancho & Agave will move into the vacant Claim Jumper Steakhouse building, which is also on Highland Avenue on the outskirts of the mall.

The menu promises carnitas and pork al pastor tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and fresh guacamole alongside margaritas, juices, sangria and craft cocktails.

Mochii Donut

The new interior mall tenant will have an opening celebration with the Lombard Chamber of Commerce at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1. Mochi doughnuts are a hybrid between a cake doughnut and chewy mochi, a traditional Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice.

The photogenic doughnuts come in such trendy flavors as matcha, strawberry, Oreo and funnel cake. Mochii is the latest addition to The Eatery, the mall's version of a food court.

“We really want to just diversify and give our customer as many different options as possible,” Dean said.

Other options on the Mochii menu include Korean corn dogs, boba drinks studded with tapioca pearls and mochi ice cream.

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  Pacific Retail Capital Partners, the owner of the core mall property, is teaming up with Chicago-based Synergy Construction Group to bring new life to Yorktown Center. Brian Hill/, 2022
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