Which Wich, a Dallas-based chain that prides itself on its wide and unusual variety of sandwich fillings and toppings, is preparing to open its second south metro area outlet.

The new location, at 2000 Rahncliff Court in Eagan, is expected to open Feb. 19, according to Jeff Eccles, an Eagan resident who will own and operate the outlet with business partner Jean Taylor.

The partners also run the Which Wich outlet in Savage, which opened last fall. Eccles is planning other outlets in Apple Valley and Golden Valley and also is scouting the market in Woodbury. He said he may also consider another restaurant in Eagan.

Eccles said he signed up as a Which Wich franchisee in December 2011, a few months after quitting his job at Mankato-based Taylor Corp. "I had been in corporate America for many years and decided it was time for a change. I wanted to run my own business."

Which Wich offers more than 50 sandwiches and a broad selection of meats, cheeses, vegetables, dressings and spreads. The chain has about 220 outlets nationwide, including other Twin Cities area restaurants in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Blaine and Maple Grove.

Home building stays on a roll

Led by Lakeville, several south metro communities have gotten off to a good start on home building this year.

Lakeville had the highest total of home-building permits throughout the metro area in January, according to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. It had 31 permits, up from six for the same month last year.

Eagan recorded eight permits for the month, up from five a year earlier. Farmington had 11, an increase from four in January last year. Apple Valley had four, up from just one a year earlier.

Home-building activity in January was unchanged from a year ago in Burnsville, which had one permit, and Inver Grove Heights, which had five.

In Scott County, Shakopee saw its permit total for January rise from four last year to 11 this year. Prior Lake recorded 10 permits, up from four a year ago. Savage had 12 permits, one more than in January of last year.

Lakeville also ranked among the top five Twin Cities communities for the number of permitted units. It was third with 33. Multi-family construction continued to put Minneapolis in the top spot with 377 permitted units.

Co-op marks 35 years in business

Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville has designated February as Member Appreciation Month, to celebrate 35 years in business.

Throughout the month, the co-op will offer member-only sales and coupons. Any shopper can stop by the store's demo kiosk Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a free slice of anniversary cake. New members in the month of February will be entered to win one of two gift baskets.

Although anybody can shop at the co-op, general manager Susan McGaughey said its 9,200 members are the foundation for its business, fueling steady growth. Over the past several years, Valley Natural Foods' single location has experienced double-digit sales growth. Local cash and product donations exceeded $82,500 in fiscal year 2011-12, bringing the total to more than $409,000 donated since 2002.

Valley Natural Foods opened in September 1977 in Lakeville and moved to 13724 Nicollet Av. in Burnsville the following year. In 1989, a fire destroyed this location and the co-op moved to 14015 Grand Av. In 2000, the co-op acquired the site for its current location at 13750 County Road 11.

In addition to the 17,000-square-foot store, the co-op also operates Down in the Valley Bakehouse, a commercial bakery that specializes in gluten-free products.

Send your Dakota County business news to susan.feyder@startribune.com.