Burger King gets whoppin’ addition

Published 9:18 am Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The city’s local Burger King restaurant will soon expanding its operations to allow hungry, on-the-go customers to get their hands on some grub faster than ever.

The Dowagiac Planning Commission approved plans for the construction of a second drive-thru lane at the local fast food restaurant, located on M-51, during their regular meeting at Dowagiac City Hall Monday evening. With the city’s authorization, construction on the project is expected to begin as soon as later this month.

The second drive-thru lane will be located next to the existing lane, using a double-speaker set up seen at other locations.

Both lanes will converge into the usual single lane setup leading up to the payment and pickup windows.

“It helps the internal circulation during busy periods of time,” said Mike Longley with Quality Dining Inc., the parent company of the Dowagiac restaurant. “Now, when it gets busy with a single drive-thru, is that you have cars that stack and wraparound the parking area.”

The expanded drive-thru lanes will span approximately 22 feet from the building to the parking area, about the size of a secondary road, Longley said.

Quality Dining, which owns 165 Burger King locations in Michigan, Indiana and Florida, has installed several of these double-lane setups at its other locations along the I-94 corridor, including Stevensville, Watervliet and Benton Harbor.

Among the concerns that the city raised when discussing the plan was how the additional lane would impact traffic around the location and the other businesses within the lot, particularly when it comes to truck deliveries. Longley assured the commission that business has several easement rights in place since the 80s that ensure that these deliveries would not violate the property rights of neighboring establishments, he said.

Another issue that one of the members discussed during the meeting was the risks of having drive-thru traffic converge into a single lane for payment.

“Obviously we can’t control how [customers] drive, but they’re pretty conscious that there are two lanes there. We haven’t had any incidents, and we probably have 40 of these now in the last three years,” Longley said. “I would say that people are using their common sense and safety when they are exiting and merging.”