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By Thomas J. Sullivan–
It’s been over a year since plans for a new Checkers burger drive-thru near Rusch Park were approved by the Citrus Heights Planning Commission, but the site along Auburn Boulevard remains vacant with no development activity visible.
So what’s happening with the plans?
Contacted by phone last week, franchisee Ben Aibuedefe confirmed he is still planning to open the restaurant, which will be an 827-square-foot drive-thru at the corner of Auburn Boulevard and Grand Oaks. The currently vacant half-acre lot is located at at 7911 Auburn Blvd., in front of Steve Cook’s Fireside Lanes bowling alley.
Aibuedefe said he was scheduled to meet again with city planning officials on Friday to resolve a number of outstanding project issues that have prevented him from obtaining the city’s final approval. He declined to elaborate further.
“Mr. Aibudefe has made some great progress over the last few weeks, but I do not have any specifics on his expected timeline,” Allison Bermudez, associate city planner, told The Sentinel last week. “I can’t speculate the cause of the delays, as they haven’t been related to a city process,” she said.
The new restaurant is part of a regional expansion of the Rally/Checkers brand in the greater Sacramento area.
Aibuedefe originally submitted his plans to the city in February 2018 and received unanimous approval from the Planning Commission last June. Staff addressed the commission’s questions regarding the landscape plan, driveways, lighting after hours, security cameras, pedestrian safety, ADA requirements and caution signage for vehicles leaving the drive-through window.
The restaurant will feature a walk-up window, but no indoor seating.
Once a building permit is issued, the restaurant could appear at the site quite rapidly, as Aibuedefe has said the company’s new “modular” format allows for the building to be manufactured off-site and then delivered for quick install.
The Florida-based Checkers Drive-In Restaurant Inc. currently has over 800 locations nationwide, but the Citrus Heights location will be the first in the Sacramento area. The restaurant chain is marketed under the names Rally’s and Checkers, and is known for seasoned fries, big burgers, chicken wings and milkshakes.
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