THE GREAT DRIVE-THRU DEBATE
Design teams at Hall Equities Group are working on new traffic flow strategies and pedestrian-safety enhancements to a proposed Amy’s Drive-Thru on N. Main & 2nd Avenue. Larkey Park Neighbors United, composed primarily of residents who live on or near 2nd Avenue, object to the current plan which routes traffic in and out of their street. The group first organized in 2017 to prevent an In N Out Burger from opening on the same corner. Although zoned for a restaurant, the site requires a conditional use permit from the City of Walnut Planning Commission to construct a drive-thru.
“If the entrance is from 2nd Avenue, it will create a huge backup and we won’t be able to get in or out of the neighborhood,” says Larkey Park Neighbors United Spokesperson Patty Mitchell. “Amy’s seems like a cool business to have here; all we want to do is protect our quality of life. All we ask is that the entrance and exit reside on N. Main Street, like every other fast food restaurant on the block.” Space constraints on the corner parcel increase the likelihood that cars in queue for drive-up service will overflow onto 2nd Avenue.
Family-owned Amy’s Kitchen is a pioneer in the frozen vegetarian food movement best known for pot pies, mac n cheese, and burritos. The company launched its first drive-thru in Rohnert Park earlier this year. North Main Street’s fast-food corridor provides a good environment to find out if commuters will choose a vegetarian meal over beef burgers and fried chicken. Deb Karbo, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer at Hall Equities Group, says her team is reevaluating the site and working on circulation, pedestrian safety, and car stacking issues. “We are listening to feedback from city officials and neighbors to make the plan better and better.”
Design Review takes a look at the new proposed layout for Amy's on Wednesday, October 16 at City Hall. For details, go to https://www.walnut-creek.org