Chipotle receives zoning relief sought in connection to new restaurant near Plymouth Meeting Mall

As reported on February 6th, Chipotle was on the February 21st agenda of the Plymouth Township’s Zoning Hearing Board. Chipotle plans to convert the former bank at 550 West Germantown Pike into a restaurant but needed zoning relief due to parking and setback requirements within the township’s zoning code. This location is on the outer ring of the Plymouth Meeting Mall, but not part of the mall property.

The agenda stated:

On an application for Variances from Plymouth Township Zoning Ordinance No. 342, as amended, Article XI, Section 1101.J.4 and Article XVII, Section 1700.D.5. The Variances requested are as follows: To allow a 29.5’ side yard setback, where a minimum of 50’ is required; to allow 25 parking spaces, where a minimum of 57 spaces is required.

Through testimony made by representatives of Chipotle, we learned that the plan is to repurpose the bank building (with some changes) which would include a “Chipotlane” to allow those placing digital orders in advance to pick up their food through a window. Ordering in this lane would not be permitted. It is anticipated that more than 50% of its sales would utilize this window.

The restaurant would also provide ordering inside for dine-in or takeout. The restaurant would have 42 indoor seats and 18 seasonal seats that are partially outside.

Members of the board expressed concerns that there would not be enough parking and vehicles backing up into the ring road around the mall. Representatives of Chipotle stressed that due to the pickup window, parking hasn’t been an issue at similar restaurants, and even during peak hours similar restaurants haven’t had more than six to eight cars waiting in the pickup lane.

The board voted to grant Chipotle the needed variances with two conditions. The bank building is larger than what is actually needed for Chipotle, and the restaurant can’t utilize the dead space in the future (so they can’t add more seats). Chipotle also can not convert the pickup window into a traditional drive-thru.

During the hearing it was never specifically stated that the location within the mall would be closed, however, it was implied that this was the case due to Chipotle seeking to bring more attention to the brand with a more visible location.

The timing to open the new restaurant was not mentioned.