Panera drive-thru up for debate in Creve Coeur

Posted on: 10:16 pm, December 16, 2013, by

CREVE COEUR, MO (KTVI) – You could soon get your Panera, or St. Louis Bread Co., to go in Creve Coeur.  The idea was up for discussion Monday night at a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing.

Commission members debated whether to amend the ordinance, which right now only allows drive-thru’s on 3-acre properties or larger.  The current ordinance is meant to prevent stand-alone drive-thru’s from popping up, both for aesthetic reasons, and for traffic.

Right now, the city’s only drive-thru is a McDonald’s on Olive Boulevard, grandfathered in before this ordinance was created, but which also sits on a larger campus.  Since then, Chick-Fil-A proposed a drive-thru in 2011, which was shot down by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

That’s why Panera took extra pains to make their proposal more appealing to city officials.  The company has requested changing the city’s ordinance to allow drive thru’s on sites between 2 and 3 acres, as long as they also meet a series of other requirements, like occupying a 2-story building with other tenants, and shielding the drive-thru from nearby residences.  This way, changing the ordinance to benefit Panera wouldn’t be opening the floodgates for every other chain restaurant to follow suit.

Creve Coeur Director of Community Development Paul Langdon explains, “The feeling is that if it’s a smaller site, there may be a greater risk of issues, so all of these protections are built in from the beginning, and they would not be able to even apply for a conditional use permit unless they meet those requirements.”

Many customers at the potential Panera drive-thru location on New Ballas Road seemed to like the idea.

Glenda Partlow says, “I love drive thru’s. Just now, I had to leave because there was such a long line and I couldn’t get my order in and had to be somewhere by 5. I would have loved to have a drive thru.”

“I think that it would go quicker and they’d have more business,” adds customer Kelli Butler.

However, every resident who spoke at Monday night’s meeting was opposed. Their major concerns are added traffic on their neighborhood streets, more noise, and more trash littered on their streets and property. “TNT” was what one resident called his list of complaints.

Also up for debate was whether to expand this proposal to make the city’s drive-thru ordinance stricter for properties 3 acres or larger. Ultimately, the commission decided to give it more time, and plan to continue the discussion at their January 6th meeting.