Mystery restaurant seeks OK to open in Tosa

May 17, 2010

A national restaurant chain is likely moving into Burleigh Square, but the property owners aren't ready to divulge the name of the newest company that wants to do business in Wauwatosa.

Eric Thom, development director of Continental Properties, is asking for approval to operate a 2,000-square-foot restaurant in the outlot building at 124th and Burleigh streets that also houses Focus Credit Union. The main building of Burleigh Square is home to Lowe's and OfficeMax stores.

Thom said he couldn't reveal the name of the eatery because he didn't want to jeopardize lease negotiations, especially in a down economy when deals are harder to come by. But he did say the restaurant is a national chain that will employ about 15 people, and operates mostly in delivery and carryout business and may eventually add some limited seating.

The Plan Commission decided last week to hold the request for a special-use permit because members did not feel comfortable supporting a project they knew so little about.

Mayor Jill Didier said she understood the delicacies of lease negotiations, but in the time she has served on the commission she has never heard of an applicant withholding such information.

"The type of restaurant is really important to me," she said. "I can't give approval without more information."

She wanted to ensure transparency of government and believed supporting this request would not accomplish that.

Commissioners said they saw the site as a good location for an eatery, but some businesses - say, Hooters for instance - can be controversial.

Thom said he had hoped for approval from the Plan Commission so he could move on to the Community Development Committee and Common Council, which would put the prospective tenant in a better position to open this summer.

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