More eats for Auburn

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City snags another chain restaurant; more retail news expected soon.

AUBURN – T.G.I. Friday’s is coming to town.

Greg Mitchell, the former economic development head in Lewiston, now private consultant, announced Tuesday that the restaurant chain had signed a lease to build in Mt. Auburn Plaza off Turner Street.

It’ll be next to newly opened LongHorn Steakhouse and soon-to-open Ruby Tuesday.

Those restaurants fill the first three spots in the plaza, leaving four more spaces that Mitchell says won’t be entirely empty too long.

“I know from my Lewiston days that the area has been crying for quality, eat-in restaurants for a number of years,” he said. “There is more land in Mt. Auburn Plaza to support more retail investment, absolutely. What I can tell you is there will be more announcements in the next 45 to 60 days.”

The plaza is owned by George Schott, who also owns the mall and negotiated to land Kohl’s last year in that same area. The plaza and the plot under the new Kohl’s are both part of a tax break negotiated with the city and tied to the level of new investment.

“It’s really exactly as the city of Auburn had hoped it would be,” said Roland Miller, Auburn economic development director. “Of course we’re very, very happy that an investor … would see an opportunity and take advantage of it.”

Mitchell said the three eateries clustering in the same spot indicate the makings of a strong retail center: “It creates a destination situation, people will travel to an area because of the choices.”

Broker Craig Young of CBRE/Boulos Co. said he’s been working with the restaurant for six to nine months. The company liked the site’s visibility, accessibility, the development going on around it and the time frame. The restaurant should open around November.

“They targeted the Lewiston-Auburn market,” he said. “We have signed letters of intent to come in behind those restaurants and we’ve got a couple of deals for the Auburn Mall – again, they take six months to a year to work their way through.”

There was no word on the anticipated number of employees. A T.G.I. Friday’s spokeswoman couldn’t be reached for comment.

This will be T.G.I. Friday’s second restaurant in Maine, according to its Web site. The first is in South Portland.

Its menu features simple American cuisine and options like “guilt-free choices” and “indulgent favorites.”

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