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Staff file photo / Shoppers walk through Hamilton Place mall, Chattanooga's largest mall, in East Brainerd.

This story was updated June 21, 2018, at 2:15 p.m. with comments from a Cheesecake Factory spokeswoman.

The Cheesecake Factory is seeking a land disturbing permit for work at a Hamilton Place mall parking lot as the company moves toward potentially building its first Chattanooga restaurant.

The California-based company is eyeing an 8,200-square-foot restaurant on the Sears side of the mall, according to plans submitted with the permit application to the city's Land Development Office.

FAST FACT

Some 198 Cheesecake Factory restaurants operate in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The average check for each guest, including beverages and desserts, was $21.85 in 2017, according to the company.

Plans show the restaurant located just off the Ring Road that goes around the mall.

According to mall owner and operator CBL Properties, it's officials are talking with The Cheesecake Factory and the Dave & Busters restaurant chains about new eateries on mall property.

CBL spokeswoman Stacey Keating said no lease has been signed with the restaurants and declined further comment.

A Cheesecake Factory spokeswoman said the company is "looking forward to signing our lease soon."

"Our restaurant development team is always on the look out for great sites," said Alethea Rowe, senior director of public relations.

Charlie Young, the city's assistant director of land development, said the permit is needed for the initial phase of work, such as digging up asphalt in the parking lot. The permit application shows plans to disturb about 1.16 acres in the lot.

Young said a building permit also will be required for the company.

In a preliminary meeting, representatives indicated they wanted the restaurant work to move ahead with a potential opening by Christmas, according to the Land Development Office.

The office hasn't seen any request related to Dave & Busters, officials said.

In January 2017, Chattanooga-based CBL bought the Sears store at Hamilton Place mall and the retailer's Northgate Mall auto site as the shopping center company looked to redevelop that space and the areas around them in the future.

CBL said then it acquired the two locations and was leasing them back to the retailer as part of a $72.5 million purchase and lease-back deal involving seven Sears facilities at CBL malls in six states.

"The lease back of the real estate by Sears will generate income to CBL and gives us control over the timing of closures while we finalize our redevelopment plans at each location," said CBL Chief Executive Stephen Lebovitz in a statement at the time.

Earlier this year, CBL announced that Panda Express and Aubrey's are set to open eateries at the site of the auto center by the end of this year.

The Cheesecake Factory Inc. an upscale casual dining segment created in 1978. Today, the business is an $2.3 billion, global company owning and operating 213 full-service, casual dining restaurants throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

While the company operates 13 Grand Lux Cafe restaurants and two RockSugar Southeast Asian Kitchen restaurants, the Cheesecake Factory concept is the key business driver and generates about 90 percent of revenues.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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