Andover's planning office deals with a specific telephone question every week.
"Those callers want to know if there's an opening downtown anywhere for a restaurant. We get those calls at least once a week," said planner Lisa Schwarz. "I'm not sure why, but people are always calling about that."
Soon, Schwarz will be able to answer that question with "Salvatore's Restaurant has been added."
With town-approved permits filed, work on the new restaurant's kitchen at 34 Park St. has started, Schwarz said. Construction company trucks can be seen in the parking lot. The retail space formerly housed The Rugged Bear for 12 years before it closed in March 2011.
Salvatore's Restaurant is expected to open in the fall, according to the restaurant management company.
The arrival of Salvatore's is not the only change Andover will see this year.
Another restaurant has just opened on Essex Street. Local restaurateur Spiro Pappadopoulos, who owns Evenfall in Haverhill, has opened a burger and wings place called Sauce.
Opened for a month, business is good, said a worker.
"We are very busy," said Rachel Cohen, noting that the buffalo wings are a top seller.
For a sweet ending, Andover will soon have a downtown bakery. A well-known Lawrence pastry shop, Fisichelli's, is opening soon at 46 Main St., where Chic Consignment used to be. Owner Nina Fisichelli Gaffny has said she hopes to be open in mid-August.
That's three new food businesses in town, which sits just fine with Schwarz. There's also been talk of an Indian restaurant opening in Shawsheen Plaza.
"I think Andover is becoming a destination. And, I think that's great," Schwarz said.
She said many of the callers she hears from often want to know if there are any other downtown restaurants.
"New restaurants like to be near other restaurants," Schwarz said.
Sense of Wonder coming to fill Stride Rite's shoes
Sense of Wonder, a women's accessory store, is opening at the former Stride Rite store at 27 Main St. It is currently located at Eaglewood Shops plaza on Route 114 in North Andover. That store will close.
The store's website includes a projected opening time of late summer.
Owner Jean Pagliuca Smith, who owns the store with her husband, Jay, writes "our North Andover store lease expires at the end of the month and we are relocating to Andover. This move has been in the works for awhile and we are very excited about it. Finally finished the paperwork this week so now we can announce the news."
There was no answer when the Townsman called on Monday.
The store is described online as a place to buy "things women like to buy for themselves, like interesting purses, scarves and accessories and to give as gifts, like Simon Pearce blown glass."
Both Smiths are former lawyers and founded their store in Reading.