SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Years in the making, the city council gave the go-ahead Monday (Feb. 28) for a drive-thru Chipotle restaurant in the south end of the Van Aken district.
The free-standing ‘Chipotlane’ building, also featuring indoor and patio dining, will stretch along Warrensville Center Road just south of Chagrin Boulevard and connect to Wendy’s, the only other full-service restaurant at the driving from the city.
Last month’s Planning Commission approval required council confirmation for the drive-thru window – with no exterior menu board or speaker system.
Indeed, all orders will be made through Chipotle’s online application, similar to the concept already in place in the Cedar-Fairmount district of Cleveland Heights, which opened last summer.
Although there were early traffic problems “with severe backups on both the side street (Lennox Road) and Cedar Road”, planning director Joyce Braverman told council that in speaking with Cleveland Heights officials, “there was a problem there with how many orders they were taking” at one time, as well as insufficient staff.
Shaker Councilman Ifeolu AC Claytor noted that the Cleveland Heights Chipotlane, built in a former bank building, appears to be a “much smaller lot” with navigation issues in that parking lot.
Chipotle can also limit the number of orders they take on the app at any given time, simply by temporarily closing it or telling customers their orders will be ready in 10 minutes, or half an hour to 40 minutes.
“If customers arrive too early, there will be three parking spaces where they will tell you to wait, or they will tell you to come back,” Braverman said of the plans that call for “sufficient stacking” of waiting cars.
A total of 27 parking spaces are available, including 10 dedicated “reserved for employees”. The Planning Commission granted a waiver of what would have been a requirement of 31 places – the required 31 places, 10 of which are reserved for ’employees only’. A shared parking arrangement is also in progress with Wendy’s.
Although “considered very different from a traditional fast-food drive-thru,” city officials also plan to conduct another traffic review after 90 days.
The floor plan shows 42 indoor dining seats and 20 patio seats which also needed variation as this is almost half of what is provided indoors and above the standard of 30% seats outside the city.
No timetable was given, although council granted confirmation of the previous Planning Commission first reading approval “so that the construction of this new building and property proceeds on schedule”.
The Chipotle owner plans 500 meals a day, half of those coming from the drive-thru pickup app, which could stay open until 11 p.m.
The only objection came from a resident who cited the proximity to the locally owned Cilantro Taqueria, which opened in the former Qdoba space on Van Aken Boulevard just over two years ago.
The resident said it was ‘unnecessary and unfair to drive customers away from a local business’ in favor of a business.
But plans for a possible Chipotle appear to predate the arrival of Cilantro, which now has four locations and a larger menuranging from surf and turf tacos to birria style to tofu.
Van Aken Mews
With a grand opening tentatively scheduled for April 22, council has also granted administrative acceptance of a conditional use permit for the Van Aken Mews, the successor to the Townhomes of Van Aken development closer to Shaker Square.
In addition to the new name, developer and Shaker resident Ken Lurie plans to upgrade to a two-story design for the remaining homes offered on the 15-year-old, 100% tax-free site, as opposed to the 12 units already built with three floors.
The proposed 2.5-year-old project will also feature a slightly lower density, with 18 new homes to be built, as opposed to the 21 additional townhouses planned by the previous owner.
Braverman said there will be three phases of construction, successive as the homes are sold. When completed, this would amount to 30 homes in all, with two separate homeowners associations governed by a “comprehensive” HOA.
“This is a positive development for properties that have sat vacant for several years,” said Sean Malone, Vice Mayor of Shaker and member of the Planning Commission.
The new design calls for brick and Hardie panel siding, with stone accents.
Councilwoman Nancy Moore praised the city’s Architectural Review Board for removing vinyl siding from the project, as well as the city’s forestry division and the Ludlow Community Association for getting rid of unclean plants. native “and even some invasive species”.
The new landscaping plan will also address concerns raised at community meetings regarding the beautification of the public right-of-way on the property up to Milverton Road.
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