CONCORD -- A company with a chain of restaurants in Southern California has selected Concord as its first Bay Area location.

The Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar has filed plans with the city to open in the Willows Shopping Center at the site of the former El Torito restaurant.

The city's Design and Review Board is expected to give final approval to the plans at a meeting Thursday, paving the way for the restaurant to obtain demolition and building permits.

Plans for the Concord location include demolishing the El Torito structure to build a single-story, 7,818 square-foot restaurant and bar with an additional 1,322 square-foot outdoor patio with 80 seats. The restaurant has also applied for a liquor license.

This comes as the Willows Shopping Center is planning a face-lift and re-branding this year. The shopping center, which includes REI, Old Navy, Benihanna restaurant and Pier One Imports, plans to add walkable public spaces, more outdoor restaurant seating and improve traffic flow in the center, according to property owner Equity One's website.

In his State of the City address earlier this month, Mayor Dan Helix highlighted the opening of Lazy Dog and other restaurants and businesses as an indication that the local economy is picking up. Another example is La Sen Bistro, a French restaurant with a rich history in downtown Berkeley, but which recently relocated to Salvio Street in Concord's downtown.

Helix praised the work of Economic Development and Housing Manager John Montagh, whose department has been working to market Concord and woo businesses to the city.

"It's good for our economic picture," Helix said Tuesday.

Lazy Dog is the brainchild of Chris Simms, a Southern California native whose inspiration came from his childhood visits to Jackson Hole, Wyo., a ski resort. The name is said to come from one snowy afternoon when Simms saw a dog lying by a fireplace.

Concord will be the chain's the 13th location, and the first in Northern California. Others are in Brea, Cerritos, Westminster, Irvine, Orange, Rancho Cucamonga, Temecula, Thousand Oaks, Torrance, Valencia and West Covina.

Senior Planner Ryan Lenhardt is recommending the Design Review Board approve the project at its 5:30 p.m. meeting Thursday, and is recommending minor revisions to the project.

David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.