WRIGLEYVILLE — It's been a long wait for Culver's to bring its sweet concrete mixers and indulgent cheese curds to Chicago.
And in Wrigleyville, the wait feels like it just got a little longer.
Culver's corporate leaders turned out Thursday to break ground on a new Portage Park restaurant at 4939 W. Irving Park Road, now in the running to be the first Culver's in Chicago.
The drive-thru restaurant in the Six Corners Shopping District is set to open as early as November and will be one of three Culver's outposts set to open around Chicago "hopefully within the next year," CEO Joe Koss said Thursday.
The chain still is trying to secure a lease for a location in Bronzeville, and Koss also shared an update on the long-planned Culver's in Wrigleyville.
"It's a unique property in Wrigleyville," Koss said. "It's part of a whole redevelopment there, so it's a pretty involved project that [franchisee Justin Obriecht] is trying to work through."
There's been little word or sign of progress on converting the vacant corner building at 3500 N. Clark St. into a mixed-use development since plans were announced in 2014.
There has been little sign of progress at 3500 N. Clark St., which will become a mixed-use development with a Culver's on the first floor. [Google Maps]
But Koss said Obriecht indicated he plans to start construction by the end of this year.
Koss shared a few other details about the Wrigleyville location as well.
There won't be a drive-thru — a common format for the fast food joint where drivers wait curbside for smiling, aproned employees to bring their food. Instead, there will be a walk-up window beckoning Cubs crowds passing through the heart of Wrigleyville on their way to and from the ballpark.
Obriecht, who already owns five Culver's in the southwest suburbs, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The franchisee has owned the former Chase Bank at Clark Street and Cornelia Avenue for three years. In late 2015, he was in the final round of financing and had hoped to break ground before the start of 2016.
At that point, his plans included six two-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors above the Culver's. Construction was expected to take nine months.
The popular chain is known for its butter burgers, cheese curds and concrete mixers. [Provided/Culver's]
Once Culver's does arrive in Lakeview, it will face stiff competition from fellow newcomers to Wrigleyville arriving in major developments just up the street. Those include Shake Shack, opening in the massive Addison & Clark development on the southeast corner of the two streets, across from Wrigley Field.
Also at the intersection will be Hotel Zachary, which will house Big Star, Smoke Daddy BBQ and McDonald's when it opens next year. Nearby at the Park at Wrigley complex, Brickhouse Restaurant and Lucky Dorr are newly opened, as well.