New Berlin — A restaurant that is described as a gathering place but does up to 70 percent of its business in its drive-through received use, site and architecture approval Monday from the New Berlin Plan Commission.
More approvals are needed, but Brookfield-based developer Somerstone LLC hopes the restaurant can open this year on the pie-shaped lot where National Avenue and Moorland Road cross. The Mobil gas station and car wash there now would be razed to make room for the 1,800 square-foot building.
City officials know pretty much what the proposed restaurant would look like and how it would operate, but they don't yet know what sign would stand out front. It will be a chain, but which one is still unknown.
Information from the developer says, "The stores are typically a neighborhood gathering place for meeting friends and family.
"We have always believed in the importance of building a great, enduring company that strikes a balance between profitability and social responsibility."
While the restaurant hours would be 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., customers typically come to the restaurants between 7 and 10 a.m. with a significant lull in activity after 2 p.m., according to information Somerstone provided.
Although the Architectural Review Committee on Monday asked the developer to improve the appearance of the front of the proposed building at 15550 W. National Ave. and add some screening, city officials said the restaurant would dress up the corner.
"This is probably the busiest intersection, and I think this will be a significant improvement in the appearance of this area," said New Berlin Mayor Dave Ament.
The commission granted a parking waiver for the proposed restaurant because so much of its business is expected to be drive-through and would not need parking. Based on the size of the proposed building, city codes call for 41 parking spaces. But the plan offers only 21, said Nikki Jones, city planning services manager.
Nevertheless, the city planning staff recommended the waiver mainly because so much business would be drive-through and also because of the size and shape of the site.
"This is a really challenging site," Jones said, and a waiver to bring about the restaurant should be well worth it.
"I think this will add a lot of value to that intersection and that area."
The restaurant would have an outdoor patio and up to eight employees would be there at the the busiest times.
The developer's traffic analysis indicates no harmful impacts partly because traffic would no longer go in and out of the Mobil station.
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