Restaurants may return to vacant
stretch of U.S. 30 in Merrillville

April 16, 2008
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent

The first of several vacant restaurant properties on the north side of U.S. 30 between Broadway and Rhode Island Street in Merrillville may soon have a new owner.

Todd Elliot with Commercial In-Sites of Merrillville said the property, which was formerly Lone Star Steakhouse, has been sold to a successful local restaurateur and he expects the deal to close in the next couple weeks.

"It will be a high-end steak house. It is a successful local brand. This will be their second location," Elliot said.

The move marks the first spate of action along the strip that has seen several restaurant properties close within about a year. Buffalo Wild Wings relocated down the street to just outside of the Westfield Southlake Mall in Hobart.

Smokey Bones was closed in May 2007 when Darden Restaurants Inc. shuttered 54 under-performing locations. The brand was then sold in December to Barbecue Integrated Inc.

Howard Fink, community development director, said the building does have a new owner who is working toward a contract to bring in another restaurant at the site. He expects more concrete details about the site in about a month.

Meanwhile, the 5,300-square-foot Lone Star building is the newest of the restaurant buildings along the stretch. It was only open for about 12 months after the restaurant was rebuilt following a fire.

Fink said there has been a significant amount of interest in all of the available properties along that stretch.

The Buffalo Wild Wings property was previously under contract, however, Fink said he was recently informed that deal did not go through. "That strip is not going to be vacant for very long," Fink said.

He said a variety of different factors contributed to the closing of the restaurants in that particular area.

"I do not think it has to do with location," Fink said.

The town has been working with the brokers and brokerage companies representing the properties to determine what would be a good fit for the area and if the properties can be used as is or redeveloped.

"We're working pretty hard to ensure good things go back into those locations," he said.



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