Starbucks planned for former Brown’s site at Lawrence & Central
by BRIAN NADIG
A Starbucks coffee shop is planning to open inside the former Brown’s Chicken restaurant at 5601 W. Lawrence Ave.
“Brown’s Chicken closed their doors (in late December). It didn’t take long for Starbucks to become interested in the site due to its proximity to the Jefferson Park Transit Center and the prime intersection that already is home to Jewel, BeefBelly, Molly & Myles and Smakosz Restaurant,” Alderman John Arena (45th) said.
The city Department of Buildings issued a construction permit on July 14 for the build-out of a coffee shop inside the existing building. An opening date for the Starbucks has not been set, Arena said.
“I see this new Starbucks as another milestone as we work together on the continuing revitalization of our neighborhood,” Arena said. Starbucks recently opened in Downtown Norwood Park and is planning to open at other area sites, including in Portage Park.
Project officials for the Jefferson Park location are looking into whether the existing drive-through facility can be reused without obtaining approval for a new special use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals, said Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh.
Exceptions can be allowed if an application is submitted within six months of the previous drive-through use ending, Brugh said. The site’s B3-1 zoning requires a special use permit for drive-through facilities.
Arena said that efforts are being made to ensure that Starbucks’ “operations mesh with $250,000 of new pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle safety improvements along Central, from Goodman to Montrose.”
Brown’s closed without notice at the end of December after operating there for more than 30 years. In the late 2000s the chain reportedly had about 40 locations, but in recent years several of its restaurants have closed.
Portions of the exterior signs at the Lawrence-Central site were painted in an apparent attempt to cover the restaurant chain’s name and logo after the restaurant closed. In mid-January, the city issued “abandoned sign” citations, requiring the removal of some of the signs.
Before Brown’s opened on the site, a bakery, a liquor store and a pizza shop reportedly were among previous occupants.
(photo by Rob Mandik)