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Sentinel staff report–
Citrus Heights planning commissioners on Wednesday voted 5-1 in favor of a proposal to re-format an old gas station near Auburn Boulevard and Antelope Road into a drive-thru pizza restaurant.
“The main focus isn’t to compete with pizza restaurants, it’s to compete with hamburgers and tacos,” owner Mercer Tyson told planning commissioners during a public hearing held prior to the vote. “So when you drive down the street, instead of getting a burger, you get a pizza and a coke.”
Tyson said his new California Quick Slice restaurant at 7766 Auburn Blvd. will feature several varieties of pizzas that will be pre-made daily and served up hot by the slice at the drive-thru, or picked up for take-and-bake at home. The restaurant will also offer coffee, shakes, a dessert pizza, and a bacon, egg and cheese pizza for breakfast, fitting with the initial proposed hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Depending on how late-night business performs, Tyson said he may also expand hours of operation to 24 hours.
Plans approved by commissioners call for largely keeping the existing gas station layout, although drive-thru lanes would be added in the rear and outdoor seating would be set up under the canopy once used for gas pumps. Several commissioners referred to the plan as “exciting” and unique, while Commissioner Tim Schaefer voted against the project and expressed concern about excessive blacktop and the outdoor canopy attracting homeless during inclement weather.
Associate Planner Alison Bermudez said the drive-thru would “really bring some vibrancy to the area,” noting the plan keeps the “look and feel” of a gas station, but features new lighting, paint, and landscaping. She said the owner will also install glass where the auto-service doors were previously, and the inside will feature artwork with a gas station theme as well. Plans also call for a 200-square-foot mural on the outside, which will have a food theme.
Commissioners discussed potential problems with limited on-site parking on the plan, which calls for nine spots. However, Tyson’s focus on a quick-serve drive-thru rather than indoor eating appeared to alleviate concerns. Additionally, the area of Auburn Boulevard qualifies for a special exemption on normal parking requirements, allowing for on-street parking along Watson Way to count towards required parking.
Under the approved plan, drive-thru customers will enter off of Auburn Boulevard, loop around behind the building for ordering and pickup, and then exit onto Watson Way.
No members of the public spoke at a hearing held before the vote, aside from the owner and his representative, Mike Gates, of Sacramento Design Systems. During the short hearing, an officer with the police department’s problem-oriented policing unit also asked whether outdoor seating would be secured to the ground, which Gates confirmed would be secured.
The planning commission voted in favor of the proposal, with Commissioner Leah Cox absent and Commissioner Schaefer being the sole “no” vote.
Tyson told The Sentinel on Saturday he’s hopeful the new California Quick Slice will open by the end of summer. He said the venture will be his first in the restaurant industry, although he has owned several other businesses in the past.
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