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Chili's to open soon in DeKalb; White Castle to close Saturday

DeKALB – Chili's is coming to town. Exciting, right? OK, now brace for the bad news, slider-lovers. White Castle is closing.

Bryson Long, superintendent with Wichita, Kansas-based Zernco, confirmed Friday morning that the former home of Ruby Tuesday, which closed unexpectedly in July at 2370 Sycamore Road, will soon be home to a Chili's.

He said he and his crew have until next Friday to finish the interior demolition of the building, and after that they'll demolish another former Ruby Tuesday in Effingham for the same purpose.

The news wasn't so bright just down the road, where signs on the doors of White Castle, 1602 Sycamore Road, said Saturday will be the restaurant's last day of business.

Clayton Mosher of DeKalb made one last stop to the DeKalb White Castle on Friday afternoon and said he was dissapointed to hear it was closing.

"It was a huge deal when it opened," he said. "There were lines out the door."

Mosher said he recalls the location being open late nights and holidays, and he had a tradition with his friends to stop by White Castle after their Thanksgiving meals.

He'll always have Aurora and Carpentersville – where the nearest White Castles are.

"We can always take a day trip and make a 'Harold & Kumar' thing out of it," he said.

Mickey Halikias of DeKalb also decided to make one last trip for some sliders Friday before the restaurant closed its doors for good.

"It's sad," he said. "I think for the type of food that it is, it's great."

Halikias said White Castle is familiar for a lot of college students from Chicago who live in town, and he thinks the restaurant would have had more business if it were in a different location.

DeKalb Principal Planner Dan Olson said the Chili's franchise group plans to open the restaurant in early fall but does not have an exact date set.

He said the group has a permit through the city for the interior demolition and will be submitting plans for interior and exterior building work and signage within the next couple of weeks.

The DeKalb Ruby Tuesday was among the rest of Ruby Tuesday Inc.'s franchise-operated locations throughout Illinois that had closed.

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said the closing of the former restaurant had been a corporate decision, and Chili's will be a welcome addition to the city.

"We look forward to having Chili's and any other business that looks to DeKalb as a friendly place to be," he said.

Can't wait for Chili's to move in? The nearest locations to DeKalb are about 20 miles away, in Elgin, Batavia and Aurora.

A typical Chili’s restaurant is roughly 6,000 square feet, includes seating for 200 guests and is staffed by approximately 120 people, according to the Brinker International corporation's website.

Restaurants are generally open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to Midnight, Friday and Saturday, but vary by location, according to the website.

Menu items include appetizers such as wings, flatbreads, nachos and fries along with salads, soups, chili, sandwiches, and entrees such as craft burgers, fajitas, ribs and steaks.

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