Skokie Dunkin’ Donuts will knock down three homes to double in size, create two drive-thrus – Chicago Tribune

2022-07-14 22:04:47 By : Mr. Henry Huang

Abdul "Ray" and Salma Panjwani, from left, and their children Reena Panjwani Khowaja, Seema Panjwani and Karim Panjwani, inside the Dunkin' Donuts at 5150 Touhy Avenue in Skokie, which the family has owned since 1991 and plans to double in size, after knocking down three homes. (Elena Ferrarin / Pioneer Press)

A family-owned Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant that has been in Skokie for more than three decades soon will have a larger building with drive-thru lanes and a covered outdoor patio.

The project to build the new, 3,700-square-foot Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin — more than twice its current size — at 5150 Touhy Ave. will require razing three single-family homes along Jarlath Avenue behind the current building.

The Skokie village board approved the site plan and special use permits for the project July 5.

The board also voted 5-1 to change the zoning of the three homes from residential to business; Trustee James Johnson voted “no” and Mayor George Van Dusen was absent.

The restaurant and the three homes are owned by the Panjwani family, which owns a total 13 Dunkin’ Donuts franchise locations, five in Skokie and the rest in surrounding suburbs.

The family bought the three homes on Jarlath Avenue years ago and rented them to tenants in light of plans to expand the restaurant, said Reena Panjwani Khowaja, director of development for Panjwani Network Restaurants, whose offices are in Skokie.

The expanded Dunkin’ store on Touhy Avenue will have two drive-thru lanes, one of them for mobile orders; three drive-through windows; an in-store digital kiosk; and eight cold beverages on tap, including nitro and cold brew.

“Operationally, it is much more efficient, so we can go really fast whether at the front counter or the drive-through,” Reena Panjwani Khowaja said.

The Panjwani franchise business was started by her parents, Abdul “Ray” Panjwani and his wife Selma, who bought their first Dunkin’ Donuts in 1986 in Evanston. The Panjwanis no longer own that store. They have owned the Touhy Avenue store since 1991.

Seema Panjwani, from left, and her sister Reena Panjwani Khowaja, parents Abdul "Ray" and Salma Panjwani, and brother Karim Panjwani, outside the Dunkin' Donuts at 5150 Touhy Avenue in Skokie, which the family has owned since 1991 and plans to rebuild with two drive-thru lanes. (Elena Ferrarin / Pioneer Press)

Reena Panjwani Khowaja and her siblings, Seema Panjwani and Karim Panjwani, worked at the family’s Dunkin’ Donuts during high school summer breaks, and now also run the business.

The Panjwanis live in Glenview, except Seema Panjwani, who lives in Chicago.

“It’s a great franchise,” Reena Panjwani Khowaja said. “It’s really evolved to meet the needs of the customers.”

“It’s a fun brand to work for,” her sister Seema Panjwani said. “We’re always coming up with new products. We get to work with a lot of fun people and we get to help support a lot of families that are working for us.”

The project was a major investment dictated by customers’ needs, the sisters said.

“Our customers have told us they want a drive-thru and the convenience of on-the-go offerings,” Reena Panjwani Khowaja said.

The new franchise look appeals to young people in particular, which is helpful at a time when businesses are faced with staffing shortages, Seema Panjwani said. “High schoolers call us and they tell us they just want to work in the new stores,” she said.

Pending final permit approvals by the village, the new store will be completed this year, or possibly in the first quarter of next year, they said.