Customers at the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on Whalley Avenue will be able to order a bucket of grease to go, now that city planners have OK’d plans for a new drive-through.
The City Plan Commission Tuesday night approved plans to reconfigure the Popeyes outlet at 35 Whalley. The vote clears the way for the restaurant to add a drive-through to its small triangular lot, making the consumption of chicken and biscuits and Louisiana-style shrimp not only salty and tasty, but also mobile.
The plan received unanimous approval but did not escape criticism, in particular from City Engineer Richard Miller, a non-voting member of the commission.
Concerns echoed those raised at the Board of Zoning Appeals, which approved the plan in a meeting last month. The BZA approved the plan by a vote of 4 to 1. Some raised concern that idling cars would create too much noise for the Courtyard Marriott hotel across the street, and add too much traffic to the busy confluence of Whalley, Goffe, and Dixwell.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Miller and aldermanic representative Adam Marchand expressed concerns about the danger and possible back-up that may be caused by the entrance and exit curb cuts, which are adjacent to each other on the eastbound lane of Goffe Street.
Miller asked why the plan did not include either removal of the median on Goffe Street or a cut-through allowing cars westbound on Goffe to turn left into the bird-ordering queue.
“We begged for one,” replied the plan’s engineer, Christopher Bell.
He said staff at the city’s transit department were “adamant” that such a cut would lead to back-up on Goffe.
Bell tried to reassure Miller and Marchand. He pointed out that 90 percent of Popeyes customers are returnees, meaning once they join the up-to-six car queue coming in exclusively from east-bound Goffe, they’ll know the drill. That and low volumes of cars on Goffe should add up to few problems, he asserted.
The response didn’t convince Miller, who in any event said he has no fondness for the Goffe median, which causes other problems, particularly with snow removal.
“Going west, they’ll just make a U-turn on Goffe at Sperry. If it becomes a problem, we’ll have to revisit that,” he said.