Seeking to achieve better site circulation, the McDonald's restaurant at 1091 Hill Road in Pickerington took one step closer towards that goal by receiving permission to relocate its double drive-thru.
July 9, the Pickerington Planning and Zoning Commission approved with a 5-2 vote the restaurant's application to amend a Conditional-use Permit to allow it to reconfigure its drive-thru.
With the approval, the existing drive-thru at the rear of the building will be moved to the northwest corner of the building.
The new drive-thru will align the stacking area towards the north side of the building and the parking space facing Refugee Road.
"Our goal is to keep all the traffic stacking on our site off Refugee Road and eliminate traffic in the right-of-way," said Lynsey Ondecker, McDonald's project coordinator.
She said the new configuration will have cars entering from Refugee Road and driving all the way around the building to get to the drive-thru.
Vehicles will not be able to take a left turn once they have entered the McDonald's lot from Refugee Road.
"If they try to make a left they will be approaching one-way traffic, head-on traffic," Ondecker said.
She said it's all about increasing efficiency, which the restaurant has down to an exact science.
"The new drive-thru will provide an engineered way of continuously moving vehicles through the assembly line at a structured pace," Ondecker said.
Commission members Ted Hackworth and Mark Dembski voted against the proposal to relocate the drive-thru.
"I don't think it's going to work the way everyone's hoping," Hackworth said.
"I don't know how much faster they can get orders processed. I'm worried about stacking before (vehicles) even get to order," Hackworth said.
Dembski said traffic currently backs all the way out to Refugee Road, however, the drive-thru relocation plan blocks "an entire row of parking, it's going to complicate the situation."
David Warren, a McDonald's representative, said the drive-thru relocation, exterior and interior renovations and parking expansion are all part of McDonald's system wide "MRP," meaning "major remodeling program."
He said the drive-thru relocation will allow McDonald's to increase its capacity to service up to 285 cars per hour at peak times versus the 150 cars per hour it currently handles at peak.
Warren said similar remodels were conducted at other locations, such as Zanesville and Hebron, with considerable success.
"Most all of our restaurants are 75 percent drive-thru (customers)," Warren said.
"(Pickerington) is a 60 percent drive-thru store.
"We're comfortable we're going to take care of stacking problems," said Warren, adding the Pickerington McDonald's has a higher percentage of in-store patrons because it has a Play Place, which is also being expanded.
A separate application to amend Nonresidential Design Standards for a site plan, architecture, landscaping and lighting was approved by a 7-0 vote.
It included the addition of 11 new parking spaces on the southwest corner of the McDonald's property, which will encroach on the western property line. That will increase on-site parking to 70 spaces, mainly to accommodate the expected uptick in visitors to the future expanded Play Place.