Friday, October 06, 2006

White Castle Wins Approval

A new White Castle restaurant will arise on a vacant lot on South Avenue despite residents’ protests that its late hours may bring unwanted traffic to the quiet East End location.

The restaurant will join Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s and some higher-end eateries along the city’s famed Restaurant Row, following Planning Board approval Thursday (Oct. 5, 2006). The stretch between Leland Avenue and Terrill Road contains both fast-food joints and fine restaurants such as Giovanna’s and Café Vivace.

Harry Jensen, the regional director of operations for New Jersey, said the company dates back to 1921, with restaurants in New Jersey since 1930. The company is family-owned and closely controls all aspects of the operations, including deliveries and security by private firms.

The company agreed to compromises on signage and other issues to gain Planning Board approval for the South Avenue site. Instead of a pylon sign, the company will place a smaller street-side sign, even though the larger sign was a permitted use.

Other questions included the hours of delivery and garbage trucks, but the company said it would adjust to community needs.

The site has a car wash to the east and a child care facility to the west.

Resident Lavora Davenport said the project would bring traffic at the same time that the day care opened at 7 a.m. Resident Victor Svelling also protested and tried to present a petition with 50 names, but Planning Board attorney Michele Donato said petitions could not legally be accepted.

Davenport’s argument that residents would suffer brought a retort from Planning Board attorney Michele Donato that in fact apartments were not a permitted use in the zone.

The applicants agreed to drop back from 24-hour service to closing the inside premises from 2 to 6 a.m., while still allowing drive-thru service.

The new restaurant should generate about 35 jobs to cover its 24-hour operation.

In answer to concerns about its late-night hours, Jensen said the restaurant will have 16 surveillance cameras and employees will be able to alert a private security firm by pendants, telephone or a button in case of trouble. The security firm is on call 24 hours, he said.

“We put these measures in places to makes sure the premises are controlled,” Jensen said.

--Bernice Paglia


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