JOLIET – The one national restaurant franchise with a downtown storefront is said to be closing by the end of the year.
City Economic Development Director Steve Jones said he has begun looking for another restaurant for the Subway sandwich shop spot at 17 W. Jefferson St.
"My understanding is the space becomes available the first of the year (2018)," Jones said.
Subway is the the only chain restaurant with a storefront in the downtown area between the Des Plaines River and railroad tracks, although Starbucks has a coffee shop inside the Harrah's Casino pavilion.
Jones said he did not think the Subway location, which is across the street from the Will County Courthouse, will be difficult to fill.
"There's way too much activity there for that to stay vacant," he said. "I think the location is what's going to sell the space to the next user."
Jones said he has already begun to talk to potential users, who would be independent restaurant operators. But he said a national or regional chain would not be a priority.
"In a downtown location, I think it would have less importance than if it was on a highway where it would be a convenience," he said.
Attempts to reach the building owner were unsuccessful.
An employee at the restaurant said he was not aware of the Subway closing and said he would need to refer questions to his boss, who was not available.
Meanwhile, an entrepreneur is preparing to open Courtside Sports Bar, a bar and restaurant, in the same block.
Bill Aeschliman said he is preparing to open in the former location of McBrody's, 73 W. Jefferson St., in March.
"It's going to be right across from the new courthouse," said Aeschliman, owner of Courtside.
Aeschliman said the future courthouse was the reason he wanted the location. Will County plans to build the new courthouse just west of the existing courthouse.
Aeschliman was a co-founder of CarCare Collision Centers, which has since been sold. He was part of the business group that developed the Minooka site of Heritage Woods, an assisted-living community that opened in June.