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Plan for doughnut shop at Lake Forest train station may have hole in it

Lake Forest is considering allowing Dunkin' Donuts open with drive-thrutrastatioff Deerpath Road east side city. But Historic PreservatiCommissigave drive-thru thumbs-down

Lake Forest is considering allowing a Dunkin' Donuts to open with a drive-thruat the train station off Deerpath Road on the east side of the city. But the Historic Preservation Commission gave the drive-thru a thumbs-down | File

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Updated: March 18, 2014 6:13AM

The Lake Forest Plan Commission got its first look at plans for installing a Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-thru at the train station on the city’s east side, but members said it needs some tweaking before deciding whether to support it.

Karim Khoja of Northfield wants to open a Dunkin’ Donuts in the space formerly occupied by The Northern Trust Bank and use the former teller window on the east side of the depot to dispense coffee, donuts and sandwiches via a drive-thru.

The plan also calls for a dine-in area inside the 1,200-square-foot space. There would be two entrances to the Dunkin’ Donuts, one from the parking lot and another from inside the depot.

While the commissioners like the idea of bringing a new business to the vacant space and another coffee shop accessible by commuters, not all were convinced the proposed plan is the right fit for the city.

The pick-up window location just south of the entrance to the station, and the queuing line for ordering and pick-up drew the most concern.

Commissioner Guy Berg described the set-up as “an accident waiting to happen.”

“We can’t pass the buck on this,” he said. “We have to think of the safety of our community first.”

In the proposed plan, vehicles would enter the drive-thru from Deerpath, moving north through the parking lot to the drive-thru queue near the south side of the depot building. Customers would order at a menu board and order speaker mounted on the ground, then continue to travel north in the designated drive-thru lane, pick up their order and proceed to the end of the lane. At that point, they would be required to stop before entering the parking lot on the north side of the depot and eventually exit onto Westminster Avenue.

The plan also calls for a railing to be installed at the entrance to the depot nearest the Dunkin’ Donuts to prevent pedestrians from walking to the pick-up window.

Director of Community Development Cathy Czerniak said the greatest challenge to the project is the drive-thru lane.

“Although a drive-thru for the bank was previously located in the area east of the depot, the customer activity for the bank was significantly less than the projections for Dunkin’ Donuts,” Czerniak wrote in her report.

Dunkin’ Donuts representatives said the drive-thru is critical to the location’s success.

Khoja owns and operates 44 Chicago-area Dunkin’ Donuts. He has 10 new stores planned this year, including the proposed Lake Forest location.

If approved, the Lake Forest drive-thru would open at 5 a.m. and close at 11 p.m.

Because there is no onsite baking, donuts would be delivered daily in a vehicle similar to a bread truck before the store opens.

“It’s a great use, but the whole queuing and ordering is concerning,” Commissioner Augie Macaluso said. “There’s a lot happening there.”

The city has been actively seeking tenants for the depot, which currently has a barber shop, shoe repair, taxi company office, and Metra ticket agent.

The city issued a request for proposals for the former bank space. The Planning and Public Lands Committee of the City Council felt Dunkin’ Donuts presented the strongest proposal and directed city staff to help develop a workable plan for review. The Plan Commission is the first step in that review process.

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