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Fast-casual gourmet donut and breakfast joint Joe Donut had big plans before the pandemic hit, with a new store set to open in the Old Orchard Mall in Skokie and three more locations in Elk Grove Village, Deerfield and Mount Prospect slated to begin construction. Of course, COVID-19 had little mercy for plans.
“At Old Orchard, we were ready to open but we weren’t able to, because everything was shut down,” Nick Philippas, owner of Joe Donut, recalled. Eight months into the pandemic, the Old Orchard location finally opened its doors.
Now, plans for the other locations are back in motion too. Construction is in progress at all three of the sites, with the Joe Donut at Elk Grove Village expected to launch in mid-October — it’s ready to go except for one piece of machinery that’s currently back ordered due to supply chain issues, according to Philppas — followed by Deerfield in early December and Mount Prospect after the new year.
“Coming out of the pandemic, we wanted to see how things were going to be,” Philippas said. While demand has come back, labor hasn’t, he added, echoing a sentiment expressed by the industry as a whole.
Lingering pandemic symptoms aside, Joe Donut is excited to introduce its wares to new guests. The expansion will mark the chain’s first foray into drive-thru dining, which will be launched in Mount Prospect at its new standalone location. The Mount Prospect location will also have more seating and an outdoor patio, where the restaurant plans to set up dining areas in eco-friendly shipping containers.
“The village was really good about our idea of expanding the concept,” Philippas said. “We’ve always wanted to try something like the shipping containers.”
The menu at the forthcoming locations will be largely the same as that of other three outposts in the chain, save for a few new healthy items. The restaurant plans to introduce avocado toast and potentially a few more vegan and vegetarian options, Philippas said. It elaborate gourmet donuts, however — which come topped with things like maple bacon, Nutella, and Oreos, to name a few — won’t be getting a “healthy” makeover any time soon.
“Donuts are not healthy. It is what it is,” Philippas said. “They’re a treat.”
As the pandemic drones on, perhaps we could all use a few more treats. Luckily for Elk Grove Village, Deerfield and Mount Prospect locals, Joe Donut will have plenty of them to go around.