The McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain has reinvented its drive-thru in recent years to allow two lanes for those seeking to get something to eat on the go.
However, the McDonald’s on State Road 54 near its interchange with Suncoast Parkway may not be joining the ranks of those other restaurants anytime soon.
Pasco County officials are recommending denying a request by McDonald’s Corp. to add that lane to its location at 16330 State Road 54 in Odessa. Their reason? Someone who decides to pull out of the drive-thru line without completing their order won’t have any way to do it.
Members of the Pasco County Development Review Committee are set to discuss the McDonald’s proposal during its regular meeting Dec. 4. The restaurant wants to eliminate a 10-foot bypass lane around the back of the restaurant — and ultimately its drive-thru line — because otherwise, it wouldn’t have enough room to create the double-lane drive-thru.
McDonald’s representative Stephanie Tyrrell filed documents with the county saying an existing traffic pass-through behind the restaurant used primarily for a Target department store, would provide the ability for customers to bypass the drive-thru lane, without the need of having it specifically on the restaurant’s site.
“However, McDonald’s drive-through customers are familiar with the operation of McDonald’s side-by side drive-through lanes,” Tyrrell wrote in her filings. “McDonald’s drive-through customers are aware that if other drive-through customers behind need to exit the lane, they have to remove their vehicles from the lane and provide the space necessary for those customer in need to leave. The customers that remove their vehicles can return to the drive-through lane by circulating around the building.”
Tyrrell points out a similar situation the company faced with a McDonald’s on North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa where a double-lane drive-thru was created last March, with vehicles needing to bypass using an existing pass-through lane for a neighboring retail center. Over the past six months, that drive-thru has “operated successfully,” she added, acting as a good indicator the proposed changes in Odessa would work as well.
However, county senior development review technician Dorothy Masumian tells the development review committee that it would create chaos for customers in the McDonald’s parking lot — especially during the times when someone wants to get out of the drive-thru line.
“With the proposed second drive-through lane, there will be several vehicles in the first and second drive-through lanes that will not be accessible to a bypass lane, and a few vehicles that will not be able to exit the first drive-through lane without asking the vehicles ahead in the queue to move her/his vehicle from the lane,” Masumian said. “This scenario is not in the best interest of the public’s health, safety and welfare in cases of emergencies and/or unforeseen circumstances.”
The McDonald’s is owned by Brickman Management Co. Inc. of Port Richey, which owns eight restaurants in Pasco and Hillsborough counties.
McDonald’s will have a chance to plead its case in front of Pasco County administrator Michele Baker and the rest of the development review committee in a meeting set for Dec. 4 at 1:30 p.m., at 8731 Citizens Drive in New Port Richey.
Pasco County officials initially approved the plan to build the McDonald’s at Suncoast Crossing in 2006, with the restaurant opening a year later.