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By Mike Hazlip—
Franchise owner Sunny Ghai says he received some unexpected news after signing a lease and receiving city approval on his plans to convert an old Goodwill building in Citrus Heights into a drive-thru Burger King restaurant.
Ghai told The Sentinel in an email Wednesday he leased the space at 7858 Lichen Drive and was prepared to begin construction when a non-compete agreement from 1987 was brought to his attention. The building now sits vacant and fenced off amid uncertainty over the 34-year-old document.
“As we were about to start work we were informed by the Landlord that he had found out that McDonald’s had put a restriction on the property years ago (1987) when both properties were owned by the same owner,” Ghai said.
Public documents obtained by The Sentinel show an agreement for the property that prevents a competing restaurant from opening. Competing business is defined in the document as any business that generates more than 25% of it’s gross annual sales from hamburgers.
Ghai says he approached McDonald’s to ask if he could still move ahead with his plans, but “they turned down the request.” A representative for McDonald’s on Friday did not respond to The Sentinel’s request for comment by press time Saturday night.
“As of now we are in limbo and don’t think we will be able to move forward,” Ghai said.
Plans submitted to the city in September 2020 show the building footprint on Lichen Drive would remain largely unchanged. A double drive-thru with traffic flowing around the back side of the structure is shown in the design. Plans for the exterior facade show changes to the color palette and signage to reflect Burger King brand standards.
The building has been vacant since the former tenant, a Goodwill donation center, closed. Prior to Goodwill, records show the structure served as a Kentucky Fried Chicken location.
Ghai’s Lodi-based Quickserve Enterprises Inc., owns more than 100 Burger Kings, and over 30 Taco Bells, according to a 2019 report by Franchising.com.
In restaurant news elsewhere in Citrus Heights, The Sentinel recently reported another Burger King along Greenback Lane closed last year and will become a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant. Further west on Greenback Lane, a new Raising Cane’s chicken restaurant also recently won approval to be built outside Hobby Lobby.
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