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PERKINS CHAIN WILL RETURN TO THE AREA WITH NEW LOOK

When the Perkins restaurant chain resurfaces next year in Amherst, the smell of hot coffee and pancakes will fill the room just as it did more than two years ago, before all the local Perkins restaurants closed.

But the familiar green decor and wide-open dining room won't be part of the picture any more.

This incarnation will be a warmer, cozier Perkins, a company spokeswoman said. The one-story building will sport the new Perkins look: separate themed rooms, including a library with a fireplace, a garden room, a formal parlor and a veranda-style area.

Company spokeswoman Vivian Brooks said some aspects of the plan have not yet been determined, including one likely to be on the minds of many Perkins fans: Will one of those larger-than-life American flag be flying there?

"It's certainly been a Perkins tradition to have those large flags," she said. "But it's not like it's part of our agreement with (the franchisers) that they fly the big Perkins flag outside the restaurant."

Plans have been filed in Amherst Town Hall for a 5,877-square-foot restaurant designed to seat up to 168 customers, according to assistant planning director Gary Black.

The new Perkins will make its home in the Windsor Park Place North retail center at Transit Road and Renaissance Drive, just north of Maple Road. The plaza currently is vacant, except for a Pier 1 store under construction there.

A restaurant in Henrietta, just outside of Rochester, is set to open in two months, becoming the first upstate to open in the near future.

And, closer to home, the Restaurant Company, the operator of the Perkins Restaurant and Bakery chain, plans to open two other locations in Erie County, in addition to the Amherst site: one in Hamburg and one at 1140 Niagara Falls Blvd. in the Town of Tonawanda, not far from the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop.

For years, several Perkins restaurants throughout Erie County made themselves part of the local landscape. All those restaurants were closed two years ago, when Rochester franchisor Perk Development Corp. filed bankruptcy. The restaurants were sold to Advantica Restaurant Group, which converted most of the local sites to Denny's locations.

Currently, the closest Perkins to Erie County is in Olean.

Twenty-nine new Perkins opened across the country last year, bringing the total number of restaurants in the chain to 491. Plans are under way to open as many as 30 more this year in the United States and Canada.

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