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Sentinel staff report–
It’s been almost a year since the Citrus Heights Planning Commission approved an entrepreneur’s creative plan to re-purpose an old gas station on Auburn Boulevard into a drive-thru pizza restaurant. But so far, the only changes observable to the thousands of cars passing by the site each day are an increase in homeless activity and a broken window being boarded up.
So, what’s going on — has the project been abandoned?
Mercer Tyson, who purchased the 16,000-square-foot lot at 7766 Auburn Blvd. two years ago and later won approval for his pizza drive-thru from the Planning Commission, told The Sentinel last week that financing difficulties have delayed the project. He said in addition to the building, which he already owns, “the cost of improvements, equipment, adequate working capital, etc. is upwards of $800,000.”
If finding an investor or a lender with decent loan terms doesn’t pan out, Tyson said he’s willing to sell other property he owns to make the project happen.
“I am prepared to sell other property to get the capital necessary,” Tyson told The Sentinel in an email. “That could be lengthy time process, but it will happen.”
Asked whether the restaurant could still potentially open this year, Tyson said a 2019 opening is “fairly likely, but probably towards the end.”
As previously reported on The Sentinel, Tyson said his new California Quick Slice restaurant 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 proposed hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“The main focus isn’t to compete with pizza restaurants, it’s to compete with hamburgers and tacos,” Tyson told planning commissioners during a public hearing in 2018. “So when you drive down the street, instead of getting a burger, you get a pizza and a coke.”
Plans 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. Plans also call for a 200-square-foot mural on the outside, which will have a food theme.
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.
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