Lion's Choice will be opening an Illinois restaurant in O'Fallon, replacing Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut shop, which closed in December.
"Right now, the target date is July 2," said Jackie Steele, administrative assistant at Lion's Choice corporate headquarters in St. Louis.
The new restaurant will share a building with Reliance Bank at 450 Regency Park, across the street from The Egg & I.
"I think it will do well," said Ted Shekell, O'Fallon's community development director. "That area is so busy with the hospital and the offices and hotels."
Lion's Choice will be located near the new St. Elizabeth's Hospital.
The fast-food chain specializes in roast-beef sandwiches, but it also serves turkey, ham, pulled-pork, Italian beef, and French dip sandwiches; hot dogs, soups, salads, sides and ice-cream desserts.
The company has 25 locations, all in Missouri, most in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
"They were familiar with O'Fallon," Shekell said. "They had a place in town several years ago in front of Walmart."
A group of friends opened the first Lion's Choice in 1967 in Ballwin, Missouri, as an alternative to burger joints, according to a company history.
"The original name they developed for the concept was Red Lion Beef," it explains. "However, a hotel chain had already trademarked Red Lion, causing the partners to rethink the name."
Tim Hortons is a Canada-based chain founded in 1964 by a National Hockey League player. The owner of six St. Louis-area franchises closed all of them last year amid legal problems.
"It was unfortunate about Tim Hortons," Shekell said. "They were a great company, and it was a good fit for that building (in Regency Park)."