Covelli Enterprises, the nation's largest Panera Bread franchisee, is planning to relocate its Panera from inside the Mall at Millenia to a new outparcel building along Conroy Road, and share the space with what will be Orlando's fourth Shake Shack restaurant.
To be located at 4054 Conroy Road alongside the mall's main entrance, the 1.97-acre outparcel site was formerly occupied by a 9,900-square-foot Elephant Bar Restaurant, which held a ground lease since 2008.
Elephant Bar's parent company went bankrupt in 2014 and was acquired by CM7 Capital Partners, an affiliate of Dallas-based private equity firm Chalak Mitra Group.
The owner closed many Elephant Bar locations in 2014 following the acquisition, including one in Altamonte Springs. The Mall at Millenia location was one of a handful nationwide that Chalak Mitra tried to keep open or sell its leasehold, but it ultimately closed the Orlando restaurant in June 2016 and gave up the building entirely.
Covelli filed a demolition permit request on Monday in Orlando to tear down the vacant building. Corresponding building and engineering permit requests are under review.
The property is owned by Cameron Group Associates LLP, an Orlando-based investment vehicle for Shutts & Bowen real estate attorney James Willard, East End Market founder John Rife, and Steven J. Schrimsher and Frank L. Schrimsher of Schrimsher Properties.
"We marketed the location thoroughly, and had interest from some that wanted the building to renovate for a restaurant, and some that didn't," Willard told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday. "(Covelli) let us know they were in a situation of leaving the Mall at Millenia, and wanted to consider that location where they could have a drive-thru, in conjunction with Shake Shack."
Owners from Northern Florida are eager to develop 36 acres they've owned near Orlando's Mall at Millenia since the mid-1970s, as soon as work starts by Orange County on extending Holden Avenue this year. But the land may also face exorbitant wetland mitigation costs.
Demolition could begin in April, Willard said, with construction expected to start shortly after and a targeted Third Quarter opening for the restaurants. Plans project more than 5,000 square feet for the Panera, and 3,500 square feet for Shake Shack.
Shake Shack owns and operates its own restaurants, and will share a common wall with Covelli's Panera. Executives with Covelli did not respond to requests for comment.
Shake Shack currently has locations in Winter Park, on International Drive, and a new 3,500-square-foot store set to open this year at the Florida Mall.
Covelli has 32 Panera Bread locations across Greater Orlando, according to its website.
Gradon Willard, associate with BishopBeale and son of James Willard, represents the land owner on this property and the roughly 50 acres that Willard and investment partners own around the Mall at Millenia.