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CHICAGO-A sluggish economy and too much expansion have plagued the restaurant industry, but some chains are bucking the trend in recent deals. Among them is Oak Brook-based McDonald’s Corp., which has leased 30,260 sf on 87th Street near Kedzie Avenue in southwest suburban Evergreen Park.

“The economy has hurt upscale restaurants the most while the fast food industry has created its own dilemma through over expansion,” says retail consultant John C. Melaniphy III in his company’s most recent retail report. “McDonald’s is a dramatic example of the over expansion. Many fast food chains are intercepting their own customers, causing considerable sales transfer to new units and no appreciable market gains.”

Atlas Partners Commercial Brokerage’s Gwen Callans represented McDonald’s in the deal with Praedium Development.

Upscale restaurant and sports bar Fox & Hound Smokehouse and Tavern has leased 9,600 sf at Ridge Plaza, 900 W. Dundee Rd. in northwest suburban Arlington Heights, its third location in the market. Wichita, KS-based Total Entertainment Restaurant Corp., which already has Fox & Hound locations in Aurora and Schaumburg, has Northern Realty Group looking for more locations. SVP Kim McGuire represented Fox & Hound Smokehouse and Tavern in the Arlington Heights deal.

Meanwhile, Chipotle Mexican Grill signed a 2,750-sf lease at 1023 W. Belmont Ave. ahead of a summer opening. Adam Secher and Nicole Paster Putzel of Baum Realty Group represented the “fast casual” chain while Scott Maesel of Century 21 Sussex & Reilly represented the owners of the 5,500-sf Lakeview building, which was sold last summer for $1.1 million.

“The trick in the restaurant field is to find your niche and be the best in that market segment,” Melaniphy says. “Fast casual dining continues to show the best overall opportunity for long-range gain.”

Gold Coast Dogs is expanding across the city limits, taking 1,600 sf Evanston Plaza at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue. Allen Joffe of Baum Realty Group represented Gold Coast Dogs while Kyla Merrifield handled negotiations for her firm, Joseph Freed & Associates.

Also in Evanston, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc. is opening a Baja Fresh Mexican Grill at Church Street Plaza, where it has leased 3,200 sf. Claudia Gatti of MidAmerica Asset Management represented Church Street Plaza ownership while Northern Realty vice president Leslie Mader represented Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.

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