Dunkin' Donuts was long rumored to be coming to a space formerly occupied by Starbucks in Burnsville's Heart of the City, but instead, a barbecue restaurant opened there in late August.

Dickey's Barbecue Pit, a national chain, also just opened locations in Coon Rapids and Shakopee, said developer Gary Janisch of H.J. Development, based in Wayzata.

The Southern-tinged restaurant serves eight kinds of meat, available on sandwiches or on their own, and a long list of sides that includes barbecue beans, fried okra, coleslaw and "fried onion tanglers." The atmosphere and prices are similar to those of Chipotle, Panera and other restaurants where patrons order at the counter but sit in a dining room that's a step up from that of a fast-food place.

"They're just doing unbelievable business," Janisch said.

As for what torpedoed the rumored donut bakery, Janisch said, "Dunkin' Donuts kept putting it off. They weren't sure what to do."

When Dunkin' Donuts was the top prospect, the developer had gotten permission from the city to install a drive-through lane on the building -- which would have been a first for the Heart of the City -- but it turns out that Dickey's doesn't have one.

Strip mall will replace Pizza Hut in West St. Paul

Panera Bread will be among the tenants of a new strip mall being built at the site of a long-vacant Pizza Hut at Robert Street and Lothenbach Avenue in West St. Paul.

Demolition of the Pizza Hut began last week, and construction should begin next week, said Jerry Engen of United Growth of San Francisco, developer for the project. The mall will also include a Panda Express restaurant, a Regis hair salon, a T-Mobile store and one other retail tenant yet to be announced, he said.

Construction should take three to four months, and it will be a month or two after that before the tenants start opening, Engen said.

The city approved the project in the spring and expected things to move more quickly, said Community Development Director Jim Hartshorn.

"I've been calling them since April on this project, and every week I get, 'Yeah, we're just about there,'" Hartshorn said.

The strip mall will have 11,000 square feet, which gives it a significantly bigger footprint than that of the Pizza Hut, which has been empty since about 2007, Hartshorn said.

Carbone's in old Bob's spot

The former Anthony's Parkway Grille in Burnsville closed for a couple of days at the end of August and reopened as a Carbone's pizzeria.

The building on Burnsville Parkway near Interstate 35W, the former site of Benchwarmer Bob's, was open as Anthony's -- which served burgers, steaks, pasta and similar fare -- for 11 months before its owner, Tony Marvets of Lakeville, decided he was more comfortable with a "pizza-beer-sports atmosphere," he said. Marvets also owns the nearby Bumpers sports bar and grill.

Plus, "There really isn't a good sit-down pizza place in Burnsville that serves alcohol," Marvets said.

The new Carbone's will start offering delivery around the end of September, he said.

Business at Anthony's fell by 50 percent during construction on Burnsville Parkway this summer, Marvets said, but that wasn't the primary reason for the change.

"Construction added to it, to push my hand a little bit, but I kind of knew before that it wasn't my forte," he said.

The restaurant has 19 TVs, and "I can already tell that people are going to come watch the Vikings games and the Twins games," he said.

Marvets took on a partner in t he transformation: Scott Lamott, who owns the Carbones in Savage.

Dylan Belden • 952-882-4938