In the COVID-19 era, a plan for a new restaurant in downtown Janesville might seem like a hazy summertime daydream.
But city officials say they’re in discussions with a restaurateur who plans to turn the former Burger King restaurant at 400 W. Centerway into a Mexican food eatery later this year.
Ilir Banushi, an Edgerton tavern operator and original partner in Whiskey Ranch, a downtown Janesville barbecue restaurant and bar, has handed plans to the city for Miss Tequila’s Cantina, a restaurant with a bar, drive-thru and possibly outdoor seating.
Burger King shut its doors on Centerway in 2014, and Banushi bought the building in 2018.
The Gazette was not immediately able to reach Banushi for comment on Miss Tequila’s. City planners unveiled his preliminary plans at a plan commission meeting this week.
The commission has taken no action on the proposed restaurant and Banushi’s request for a drive-thru. Further review has been postponed until June pending plan updates.
Banushi has told city officials he needs more time to work up exterior plans, an effort that has been slowed by the pandemic.
In a memo, city planners said Banushi’s proposal would renovate the long-vacant property and reuse a building near downtown and within walking distance for Look West neighborhood residents.
Plans show the restaurant would have indoor dining with a bar and a “game room” along with 600 square feet of gated, outdoor seating, including a gas fire pit.
It would offer drive-through service, but that portion of the plan must get plan commission approval as a conditional use.
The building already has drive-through windows from its days as a Burger King, but the conditional-use permit has lapsed, city planners said.
Banushi’s plan also requires approval of a liquor license to operate the restaurant as a bar.