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Chick-fil-A serves up a solution to traffic congestion at its Santa Barbara drive-thru

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Chick-fil-A, once called a nuisance by the city, has a plan to serve up an upgraded design and stay in full operation at its location on 3709 State Street.

The restaurant's popularity at times has jammed the drive-thru and cars have backed up on the street.  
That has both slowed and stopped vehicle traffic. In some cases, adjacent businesses have had access driveways cut off.

Bike riders have had to swerve around the congestion.
Neighbors have complained for months.
The city police department and Santa Barbara City Council have worked on many remedies.

Most recently Chick-fil-A faced a nuisance hearing in front of the council and agreed to control the vehicle flow

One of the solutions in the meantime is to have a security guard in the drive thru to tell people to go in if they have room and to go through on the street if they don't.  

In the end the redesign has been the most appetizing solution.
It was supported by the Architectural Board of Review Monday.

The site was formerly a drive-thru Burger King that did not have the same issues. That restaurant closed in 2012. Chick-fil-A began plans for the site in 2011 and opened in 2013.

Modifications include two drive thru lanes, new ordering stations and menu boards with canopies, widening the entrance lane to a total of three lanes,  the removal of 15 parking spots, adding bike racks and a change in landscaping.

Santa Barbara Chick-fil-A owner Travis Collins, "never was it our heart or our intent  to be a nuisance to create a problem in the street. We always want to work hard to serve this community  as best as possible."

Colins said across the nation drive-thru's have seen an increase in business. "As we've seen drive thru's throughout the nation pickup, it puts a lot of emphasis on our drive thru. We were really blessed at a time when they were  looking for normal."

Customer Marci Grimaud said, "it is important not to block other roads or other stores."

Those seating lunch said they like the solution worked out and approved by Chick-fil-A and the Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review.

Grimaud said, "it is hard when something is so successful, but you have to protect other people and I think remodeling would be a great solution."

One customer was lucky to avoid the jam up when he goes for a meal.

Andy Shapiro said, "if they want to increase it to  make it easier I think it is a good idea but I don't think it is a problem now."

The restaurant has upstaffed to have employees with portable order tabs greeting guests before they get to a menu board and expediting the service.

"If it were not for the team members serving this business right now we wouldn't be close to where we are in  the position, so I could not be more grateful," says Collins.

There are still some remaining landscaping issues that have to be approved, before the full project is set to go.

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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