Developer of Wendy's in Campustown looking for 2nd site
The developer of a new Wendy's restaurant in Champaign's Campustown says he hopes to open a Wendy's in Urbana eventually.
Mike Allegro, the owner and operator of 16 Wendy's restaurants in northeastern Illinois, said he would like to put a Wendy's in Urbana in mid-2013.
Urbana has been without a Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers location since September 2006, when the Wendy's at Race Street and University Avenue closed. That location is now the site of another restaurant, Windy City Express.
Beyond the Urbana store, Allegro said he doesn't have any other sites in mind for additional stores in Champaign-Urbana.
Two months ago, Allegro announced plans for a new Wendy's at 608 S. Sixth St., C — the former Den Liquors building north of the Busey Bank office at Sixth and Green streets in Campustown.
"Our landlord has completed initial work, and we hope to get started (with remodeling) probably by the week of Nov. 19," Allegro said.
The remodeling is expected to take seven weeks, with the opening likely in early to mid-January.
"It will be the first restaurant we've done without a drive-thru," Allegro said, noting the store will be "in line" with other storefront businesses rather than a freestanding store.
The Campustown store will be the 17th for Allegro, 57, of Bourbonnais.
A native of the Kankakee area, Allegro joined Wendy's as a manager in 1982. He later became a district manager and was promoted into the training department, where he became responsible for training in half the Chicago market.
Allegro was given the opportunity to become a Wendy's franchisee in 1988. He bought two company-owned stores in Bradley and Kankakee in February 1989, then acquired another store in Chicago Heights that July and one in Harvey that September.
Many of his other stores were also acquisitions, with Allegro buying out franchisees as they retired.
Today, he has four stores in Kankakee County, five stores in Will County, four stores in Cook County and three stores in DuPage County.
The foray into Champaign-Urbana is his southernmost venture.
"We've been interested in Champaign-Urbana for a number of years, and we were ready to expand farther south," he said. "We knew that Champaign-Urbana could weather more than one restaurant, given its population and the university."
As of now, Wendy's has only one outlet in Champaign-Urbana, at 2033 N. Prospect Ave., C. That restaurant has been operated since April 2008 by the Wendnormal franchise.
Previously, that store had been operated by WenAmerica, a franchise based in the St. Louis area. But that company closed many of its stores — including its three Wendy's in Champaign-Urbana — in 2006.
Allegro said he employs about 520 crew members, 64 full-time managers, plus office staff, at All Star Management, which operates the stores — and at the holding company, WAM Holdings.
He said he has already hired a general manager and restaurant manager in Champaign. He plans to start hiring a core crew for the Campustown restaurant in "probably three to four weeks," with additional hiring after that.
Allegro was re-elected last week to a second term as president of Wendy's Franchise Advisory Council and has received the Founder's Award, the second-highest award in the Wendy's system.
He has been active in the Easter Seal Society, and his business has sponsored athletic teams and helped with fundraisers for schools and church organizations.
Allegro has been in the restaurant business since he was 14 years old, having worked as a busboy, dishwasher and cook. Among the early places he worked were Marty's Steakhouse in Bradley and Hunk's Pancake House in Kankakee.