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HOUSTON-The Weitzman Group is steering the site selection for Corner Bakery Cafe’s entry into the Houston market.

David Stukalin, Weitzman’s president in Houston, tells that he currently is evaluating space in existing shopping centers to add 15 to 20 stores in the region. There are no signed deals in hand, but he expects the first will deliver at the beginning of next year. The search is focusing on the CBD, River Oaks, Highland Village and other spots inside Loop 610. The concept’s owner, Brinker International Inc. of Dallas, is seeking sites with strong day and evening populations.

Stukalin says Brinker, which could take up to three years for the rollout, favors controlled and methodical expansions and the climate is now right to introduce the concept to Houston. Jennifer Fredette, a Weitzman associate in Houston, also is working on the assignment.

The Corner Bakery concept began in a nook of Maggiano’s Little Italy in Chicago and now consists of 88 stores in eight states and the District of Columbia. Brinker has more than 1,400 units in its lineup, which also includes Chili’s Bar & Grill and Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

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