Fast food chain is second to close in town in the last month
In a last-minute decision, the Burger King Corporation closed its Truckee location on Oct. 16, leaving only two drive-thru fast food restaurants in town.
“We literally came to the decision at the beginning of the month,” said Jeff Russell, asset manager for Burger King Corporation. “It was, unfortunately, a very quick decision.”
Russell cited mediocre sales and an outdated facility as reasons for the closure. For the past year, he added, the corporation was unable to locate a viable, local franchisee who was willing to invest in remodeling the location. Few improvements had been made on the plant since it opened nearly two decades ago.
Russell said he plans on finding a new tenant as soon as possible.
In the last month, Burger King was the second Truckee fast food restaurant to close its doors. Taco Bell shut down its Gateway Center location in September, with the franchisee citing that the lease agreement was too expensive. Taco Bell is currently looking for a new location in Truckee.
“The fast food industry as a whole has gone through its share of setbacks recently; not just Burger King but our competitors, too,” Russell said.
The fast food restaurant’s closure came as a surprise to Truckee residents, including Burger King employees, who went to McDonald’s the morning of the closure to look for jobs, said McDonald’s owner Tom Teague. Teague hired a couple of them on the spot.
The Burger King closure came as a surprise to Dairy Queen-owner Mark Sterns. Sterns has owned the Truckee Dairy Queen for a dozen years, and the recent Truckee fast food restaurant closures have concerned him.
“When something as large as Burger King has to close a store, it kind of makes me worry a little bit,” Sterns said.
The Town of Truckee was equally surprised.
“We didn’t know it was closing,” said Tony Lashbrook, the Town of Truckee community development director.
In 2000, Truckee’s general plan changed town zoning to limit drive-thrus to commercial highway areas, small areas directly off Interstate 80, Lashbrook said. Since the former Burger King building is not located in a zone that allows drive-thrus, it will lose its drive-thru if no tenants are found in six months.
The purpose of the zoning changes, Lashbrook said, was to make Truckee less vehicle-oriented.
The remaining drive-thru locations in town are McDonald’s and Dairy Queen, where Sterns says at least 55 percent of his business comes from the drive-thru.
“It’s weird how in a growing town, these fast food places are shutting down,” Sterns said. “That’s kind of the puzzling part for me.”
For more information on the closure of Taco Bell and other Truckee businesses, check out http://www.sierrasun.com.
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