Sentinel staff report–
Drivers seeking a fast bite to eat on Auburn Boulevard may have two new drive-thru options prior to the end of the year: one specializing in pizza by the slice, and also the other serving up seasoned fries, big burgers, chicken wings and milkshakes.
The city has already approved plans for California Quick Slice to bring a new pizza drive-thru to an old gas station at 7766 Auburn Blvd. and is currently reviewing plans for a new Checkers burger drive-thru at 7911 Auburn Blvd. Although discussion about bringing Checkers to the Boulevard have been around since this past year, local Franchisee Ben Aibuedefe didn’t submit intends to the city until a month ago.
Related: Citrus Heights planning commission approves new drive-thru pizza
The Checkers site plan requires a small, 827-square-foot modular building to be constructed off-site and brought to a currently vacant half-acre lot before Steve Cook’s Fireside Lanes bowling alley. The plan shows a drive-thru window around the south side, 12 parking spaces along Grand Oaks Boulevard, and an outdoor seating area with a walk-up window and several tables with canopies.
Two existing driveways would be removed and replaced with landscaping, allowing access from Auburn Boulevard in an existing shared driveway with the bowling alley. Another driveway can also be shown allowing access from Grand Oaks Boulevard.
Citrus Heights Associate Planner Alison Bermudez confirmed on Thursday that indoor eating isn't proposed, as is typical of Checkers restaurants in other parts of the country. The Florida-based Checkers Drive-In Restaurant Inc. currently has over 800 locations nationwide, but the Citrus Heights location may be the first proposed in the Sacramento area.
The Sacramento Bee reported a week ago that Checkers had already scheduled a dent date of Sept. 18 for the Citrus Heights restaurant, but the franchisee told The Sentinel on Thursday he isn’t ready to set an opening date yet, since plans haven’t yet been authorized by the city.
“At this time I don’t have a timeline,” said Aibuedefe. “But I’m 100 percent confident that we’ll get it done this year.”
The franchisee said he and his engineer are presently reviewing comments recently received from the city regarding the plans submitted.
As along with other proposals, Bermudez said the city reviews the plans and responds having a checklist of comments, questions, concerns and modifications. She said street improvements along Auburn Boulevard, such as sidewalks, curbs, and gutters, would likely be required, along with parking lot lighting and landscaping.
Since the project calls for a drive-thru, Bermudez said the city’s planning commission holds a hearing on the proposal, likely at the begining of summer.
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If everything goes smoothly with the permit process, Aibuedefe said his new restaurant could pop up within six weeks after permits are issued, due to the company's new \”modular\” format that allows for the building to be manufactured off-site and then delivered for quick install.
\”It will add to the plan for redevelopment,” the franchisee told The Sentinel. “We're bringing in something that will be a boost to the city.\”
The proposed restaurant belongs to a regional expansion of the Checkers brand towards the Sacramento area, and Aibuedefe said he's hopeful to add more franchise locations in the area down the road. The company announced last year that it was seeking to open 26 restaurants in the Sacramento area.
As previously reported on The Sentinel, Aibuedefe immigrated to the United States from Nigeria in his twenties and now lives in Roseville. The 58-year-old said he ran a service station business for the past 12 years, but had his eye on opening a cafe or restaurant all along.
\”I always wanted to get into fast food, but I wanted the right fit,\” the franchisee said. \”I just wanted to get away from the gas station business and concentrate on something different.\”
As part of searching for a spot in three cities in the Sacramento valley, he said the vacant spot at Auburn Boulevard and Grand Oaks was recognized as a \”great location\” with close proximity to his home. He also said Citrus Heights stood out as a well-managed city with \”plans to keep increasing the infrastructure.\”
Although not initially proposing 24-hour operation, Aibuedefe previously said he'd consider staying open 24 hours if its \”financially effective\” and safe for employees after midnight. The neighboring bowling alley is open until midnight during weekdays and 1:30 a.m. on weekends.
The who owns California Quick Slice can also be considering 24-hour operation, if there’s demand. Both drive-thru’s are hoping to open later this year.