Owners the steakhouse chain Texas Roadhouse asked the Mesa Planning and Zoning board to approve construction of a larger restaurant east of their current spot at the southeast corner of Stapley Drive and the U.S. 60.
The landlord for Charleston’s, a restaurant just south, opposed the plans at a recent Planning and Zoning Board meeting over concerns about congested parking, suggesting there’s a robust appetite for sit-down dining in the wake of pandemic disruptions to the food and hospitality industry.
According to plans submitted to the city, the Texas Roadhouse wants the new restaurant to be 9,200 square feet and seat 350 guests – about 28% larger than the current building.
A member of the public who submitted a comment in support of the project hinted at the need for the expansion: “I am a patron of Texas Roadhouse who lives just directly north across the freeway. The food service and staff are excellent. The restaurant is so successful that on any given weekend day, there’s a waiting line outside.”
The owner of the property housing Charleston’s sent a representative to the hearing to oppose the expansion.
Their No. 1 concern was the high demand for parking surrounding the two restaurants, he said.
Planning staff determined the Mesa Grand Shopping Center will have a net loss of 13 parking spaces when Texas Roadhouse completes the new building and then demolishes the old one.
According to the representative for Charleston’s landlord, the change would “greatly affect” the restaurant, which is “already struggling with parking.”
The property owner is also concerned about restaurant access during construction, when parking will be even more constrained.
An attorney for Texas Roadhouse estimated their new restaurant would take about four-and-a-half months to complete, and they promised to stage construction equipment as far away from Charleston’s as possible.
But board member Ben Ayers was skeptical of the time estimates for construction.
“As an architect, I can tell you right now that’s very optimistic,” he said.
Board Chair Jeffrey Crockett later estimated the construction would take between six months and a year.
Current fans of Texas Roadhouse need not worry about construction delays: the chain’s representatives said the current restaurant would stay in operation until the new restaurant is complete, at which time the old building will be demolished and the area landscaped.
The board sympathized with Charleston’s concerns about parking, especially during construction.
However, board members felt that in the long term, the new configuration and location for the Texas Roadhouse would improve the overall parking situation at the Mesa Grand Shopping Center.
“There’s a lot of parking on the north side of the AMC (theater), and a lot of the time there’s large areas over there that are vacant that you can park, and like I said you just have to go further east,” Crockett said.
The new location and orientation of the expanded Texas Roadhouse would encourage patrons to use these underutilized areas of the parking lot, Crockett speculated.
“I suspect that moving the Texas Roadhouse further east is actually going to help the parking situation around Charleston’s,” Crockett added.
Charleston’s advocate had some lingering concerns about the parking situation, though.
“As you know, people that go to restaurants, they want to park right in front of both these locations,” he said.
In light of Charleston’s concerns, board members advised Texas Roadhouse to develop a robust good-neighbor policy to mitigate impacts during construction, and encouraged the two restaurants to continue discussions about managing parking.
The board voted unanimously to approve the site plan for the new Texas Roadhouse.