ST. CHARLES – Construction along the east side of Route 64 caused the Tastee Freez in St. Charles to close, but the president of the company said she hopes to get another renter into the building once construction clears up.
Wendie Rose, president of Chicago Tastee Freez, said the restaurant and ice cream shop has been closed since early February because construction had largely blocked off the entrances to the building.
"Even before then, business was bad. Everyone was avoiding Main Street," she said. "When you could get through, the backup was tremendous."
The Illinois Department of Transportation began construction in April 2012 along Route 64 from Seventh Avenue to Route 59 on the east side of St. Charles. Construction is expected to wrap up by the end of this summer. When the project is finished, Route 64 will be resurfaced and wider with a middle turn lane.
The restaurant has been a long-time St. Charles establishment. Rose said the Tastee Freez used to be a small walk-up ice cream shop in the 800 block of East Main Street in the 1950s, and a larger Tastee Freez building was constructed there in the 1970s.
"I actually do have someone interested in going in there – a new franchisee – but I cannot put them in there until the new street is open," Rose said.
She said she'll also have to lower rent because it likely will take a while for people to start realizing the restaurant is no longer closed.
"The problem when you're closed that long is people find other places to go," she said. "They avoid Main Street and they start developing their loyalty there."
Rose said the company has 11 total franchises now that the St. Charles location has closed. She said summer construction has slowed business at other franchise locations in the past, but the duration of the construction in St. Charles was the "death knell."
"You can't hold on for a year-and-a-half," she said. "I'm just surprised there hasn't been a greater outcry from the other business owners."