by CHRIS ROGERS
Burger King is coming to Winona, and its location is a unique one.
Chicago-based Cave Enterprises Operations plans to open a Burger King franchise on the corner of Mankato Avenue and Riverbend Road, on what is currently the far corner of Target’s parking lot.
The Winona Planning Commission and city planners have talked for years about the fact that many of the city’s largest retailers have expansive parking lots that sit mostly unused. The parking lots are so big, in part, because of city zoning codes at the time that a certain number of stalls for every square foot of store space. City planners have since come to the conclusion that those requirements were excessive and wasted valuable land. City officials have suggested that those overly large lots could be redeveloped, but the new Burger King may become the first project to do so.
“Winona’s been on radar for quite some time,” Cave Enterprises Operations Vice President for Development John Kayser said. Cave Enterprises operates a number of La Crosse, Wis., restaurants and has been looking to expand its footprint in Minnesota, Kayser explained. The company has been searching for a location in Winona for years before settling on the Target site. “It’s a great location with that retail strip there along Mankato Avenue,” Kayser said. When Kayser learned about the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s plans for roundabouts and pedestrian upgrades to the corridor in 2022, he saw it as another plus. “We’re excited about how those improvements are going to impact that whole corridor,” he stated.
“We’d love to see our restaurant open this year, but due to timing constraints, it may not be until possibly as late as summer of 2021,” Cave Enterprises Operations Vice President for Development John Kayser said.
There are a few hoops for the new project to jump through first, including splitting off the new parcel from Target’s property and a variance request for the restaurant’s sign, which will come before the city of Winona’s Board of Adjustment on June 3.