News - McHenry County

Huntley cooks up fresh approval for Panera

Restaurant originally expressed interest in Huntley in 2013

The new Panera Bread being proposed in Huntley will be a standalone building, which is a change from the original plan approved back in 2017. The restaurant received fresh approval at the village's July 14, 2022 meeting.

After being originally approved more than five years ago, Panera Bread in Huntley received a second approval last week to open in town, with the goal of serving customers next spring.

Along with Panera Bread, trustees Thursday approved a commercial health and exercise club business, and heard a presentation from Huntley Ford that could see it expand.

The Panera Bread restaurant, which is planned to be constructed in the southeast corner of Route 47 and Kreutzer Road, will include indoor seating for 60, an outdoor patio and a drive-through lane, village documents state.

The building will be 3,480 square feet, which is more than 700 square feet smaller than the space originally proposed in 2017.

“I think it looks great,” Trustee Curt Kittel said. “I want you to start digging.”

“We’d be drummed out of Huntley if we didn’t approve you through,” Trustee Ronda Goldman said.

The goal is to break ground this year, and open in the spring, Director of Development Services Charles Nordman said at the meeting.

The idea for a Panera in Huntley dates back nearly a decade, with the business expressing an interest in Huntley as early as 2013.

More than three years later, the restaurant received approval from the Village Board in June 2017, village documents show. However, that special use permit expired, which required the developer to seek fresh approval.

Plans to build out went as far as signage being placed in 2019 at the intersection announcing the Panera Bread, but village officials in 2020 said construction was held up due to certain obligations related to the ownership of the land.

The plan originally called for a 7,500-square-foot building to be home to both the Panera Bread and a retail space. The current plan now calls for two separate buildings, Nordman said. The second building has not yet been approved by the village.

“This is a pretty similar plan that was in front of (the village board) in 2017 with some minor tweaks,” Nordman said.

Other businesses approved Thursday include a commercial health and exercise club at Pound 4 Pound Fitness Equipment.

Located at 11419 Smith Drive, the building includes nearly 8,000 square feet in office space, and almost 54,000 square feet of warehouse space that Pound 4 Pound uses to buy, resell and store fitness equipment.

The proposal will see the interior renovated, with the warehouse space increasing by about 1,000 square feet. Pound 4 Pound’s equipment and resale side will move into the larger space, while a new commercial health and exercise club will open in the 7,000-square-foot space.

Huntley Ford also presented plans to upgrade its facade and expand its vehicle display lot at Thursday’s meeting. Those changes could include a new building for additional service bays and various renovations, village documents state.

The changes could also create the opportunity for other dealerships to open up on the lot, officials said. None have been identified at this time.

The presentation was a review, and no action was taken. To receive formal approval, the dealership will have to go through the village’s approval process.