Lone Tree city and business officials hope In-N-Out Burger lives up to its name when it officially opens in early 2021. The recent grand openings of In-N-Out locations in Aurora and Colorado Springs suggest the Park Meadows location could have wait times reaching several hours.
“There is a general anxiousness about what the traffic will look like around the site,” said Justin Schmitz, City of Lone Tree public works director. “The opening day in Aurora — people did take notice.”
The Aurora In-N-Out Burger restaurant opened Nov. 19, and the next day, the Denver Post reported wait times reached 14 hours.
In-N-Out officials expect its Lone Tree location, at 9171 E. Westview Road, to have the franchise's second-busiest drive-thru, capable of holding 26 cars at one time. Only the In-N-Out near Los Angeles International Airport will have a greater drive-thru capacity at 30 cars.
Lone Tree's In-N-Out is in the final stages of construction, according to Carl Arena, an In-N-Out vice president, in a Dec. 14 email.
“While the nature of the new construction process makes it difficult to predict a precise opening date, we are targeting early 2021 to open in Lone Tree,” Arena said.
Schmitz does not believe the Park Meadows location is in for as bad of an experience as Aurora's.
In-N-Out officials submitted plans for its Lone Tree location in August 2019 and city staff has been preparing for In-N-Out's opening day for the past year, Schmitz said.
The city recently collected input from nearby property owners, Schmitz said, including the Park Meadows mall, and devised an opening day traffic plan suitable to everyone.
The main goal, Schmitz said: “We wanted to keep all our public roads open to traffic.”
The city has required any staging area for cars waiting to get in line at In-N-Out be done at an offsite location or parking lot, Schmitz said, instead of clogging service streets. Traffic monitors will be on-site, just like they would be for any large event held in the city, making sure businesses and roads are not obstructed. The city even restriped the Westview Road, adding an additional two-way turn lane out of the In-N-Out parking lot.
“I think there is a general 'let's wait and see what happens,'” Schmitz said. “I think we have a really strong plan and something that will mitigate any impacts to any of the adjacent businesses but also allow for the smooth and manageable flow of traffic—and those are the two things we're trying to allow.”
City staff will be monitoring and making ongoing adjustments to optimize the restaurant's traffic flow.
Being the second In-N-Out to open in the metro area, the Lone Tree In-N-Out could see a milder crowd than Aurora did, Schmitz said.
“The City of Lone Tree is interested in how this would work out,” Schmitz said.
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