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- New Citrus Heights retail plaza, drive-thru project moving forward October 15, 2020
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Sentinel staff report–
Despite COVID-19 business shutdowns leading California into a projected multi-year recession, the owner of a future Checkers burger drive-thru is moving ahead with plans.
New construction fencing at the vacant site on Auburn Boulevard popped up over the past week, and owner Ben Aibuedefe picked up a construction permit from City Hall on Wednesday.
“Even during these times of uncertainty, business is happening in Citrus Heights,” the City of Citrus Heights said in a Facebook post on Thursday, accompanied by a photo of Aibuedefe holding a permit in hand.
“It’s getting there, it’s coming together — except that I don’t have a date of opening,” the franchise owner told The Sentinel on Friday.
Asked about the delay in the project, which was approved by the Planning Commission two years ago, he said it’s been a slow learning process working with contractors, architects, the city, utility companies and others involved.
“The saying goes: ‘Man proposes, God disposes,'” said Aibuedefe. “Now everything is in motion, the construction will begin with clearing the brush maybe next week, and we’ll take it from there.”
He confirmed plans to open this year, but said “it could be way out there in the end of the year.”
Asked about opening a new business at a time when many businesses are struggling to stay afloat, Aibuedefe called the Rally’s-Checkers drive-thru-only concept the ideal for a time when sit-down restaurants have shuttered their doors and are operating only drive-thru service, or takeout and delivery.
“This is a unique concept, Checkers and Rallys is the only fast food concept with a closed kitchen,” said Aibuedefe, noting the 827-square-foot drive-thru offers no sit-in dining by design. “This concept is built for the time we are in… it is the beneficiary of the time we are in.”
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.
The local drive-thru will be built at 7911 Auburn Blvd., outside Steve Cook’s Fireside Lanes. Once site work is completed, the restaurant could appear at the site quite rapidly, as the company’s “modular” format allows for the building to be manufactured off-site and then delivered for quick install.
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