OLD IRVING PARK — Neighbors are skeptical of a plan from the owners of a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise who want to take over the former Golden Nugget Pancake House and add a drive-thru window.
Dunkin’ franchise owners Max Purohit and his daughter Ashley Purohit want to relocate their store at 4313 W. Irving Park Road a few blocks east to the now-closed Golden Nugget Pancake House, 4229 W. Irving Park Road.
The location would offer a larger, updated storefront, possible outdoor patio seating and enough room for a drive-thru for customers, according to plans previously shared with Ald. Ruth Cruz’s (30th) office.
Because the former Golden Nugget is already a restaurant, the Purohits don’t need a zoning change, but they will need a special use permit for a drive-thru window, Cruz said.
Adding the drive-thru is critical to the owners’ plan for their new location, said Nick Ftikas, the Purohits’ attorney.
“We’re still very early in the process,” Ftikas said. “Max and Ashley want to discuss the relocation concept with the alderman first to get a gauge on her position and the local neighborhood’s position.”
The proposed drive-thru entrance would be on Tripp Avenue, a one-way street just south of Irving Park Road. After customers receive their order, they would drive onto Irving Park Road from a new exit built on the east side of the property, Ftikas said.
Signs would direct drivers to turn east onto Irving Park Road as they exit the drive-thru and mirrors could be added to help drivers see if pedestrians are crossing in front of them as they drive away, the owners said.
A raised “pork chop” pedestrian island would also be installed at the exit to help direct drivers as they turn east onto Irving Park Road, Ftikas said.
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At a community meeting Tuesday, neighbors said the design of the drive-thru would only create more traffic issues in an already busy area where cars come and go from the Kennedy Expressway, ERIS Brewery and Cider House and a nearby Chicago firehouse..
The Irving Park YMCA, 4251 W. Irving Park Road, has a parking lot with an entrance across the street from where the proposed drive-thru would be, and there are residential driveways along Tripp, neighbors said.
Neighbor Bridget Clymore walks to the Blue Line for work and already has issues crossing at Tripp, she said. Adding the drive-thru would create a “nightmare” for people walking in the area, she said.
“I’m adamantly opposed to this. I think it’s going to do nothing but put children’s lives in danger,” Clymore said.
“We’ve literally had so many accidents and traffic, people doing crazy things in traffic. Turning left or right when they’re not supposed to,” said Anna Sobor, another neighbor. “Putting a driveway at this location would make the situation even more dangerous.”
The owners are open to commissioning a traffic study of the area before submitting their plans to the zoning board as well as looking at other traffic calming measures like reducing drive-thru hours to accommodate neighbors’ concerns, Ftikas and the owners said.
“We would do anything to make the community happy,” Max Purohit said.
Cruz’s office is soliciting feedback on the plan before formally weighing in, but the final decision on the drive-thru rests with the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, Cruz said.
The alderwoman did not give a timeline on when she’d make her decision but asked neighbors to continue sending comments to her office.
The Golden Nugget on Irving Park Road was once one of the chain’s 24-hour spots, popular with the breakfast and late-night crowds, neighbors said. It opened in 1970.
The hours changed to 6 a.m.-10 p.m. about five years ago, and business hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, owner Cathy Guzman previously said.
Guzman closed the location last year and has since been looking to lease the space.
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