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Fast-casual restaurants such as Panera Bread are drawing the eye of city leaders as well.

The Town of Eastchester’s zoning amendments in March were aimed at keeping fast-casual restaurants from entering the village of 32,000. Eastchester town supervisor Anthony Colavita told Fox 5 news soon after the new zoning passed that “we receive a lot of applications and a lot of inquiries from fast-food restaurants and also hybrids. 

“There’s a new style of restaurant out there called quick-casual,” Colavita said. “It’s just like a fast-food restaurant but it’s not quite like a regular restaurant, and our zoning code was not adequate to deal with it. … We’ve decided this fast-casual thing is not something we wanted.”

Colavita said those options are available in the surrounding municipalities such as Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers, but that fast-casual restaurants are “inappropriate for our town.”

“Generally you have a corporate-driven architecture and a similar décor,” he said. That type of restaurant also generates a lot of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, Colavita said, and “diminishes the character of the community.”

A wide variety of municipalities – generally vacation destinations – have limited chain restaurants over the past decade, including: Bainbridge Island, Wash.; Bristol, R.I.; Cannon Beach, Ore.; Chesapeake City, Md.; Fredericksburg, Texas; Ogunquit and York, Maine; San Francisco; Springdale, Utah; and number in California, including last summer in Sonoma.

When a municipality considers bans on formula businesses, Villa of the Wisconsin group said land owners and franchise business owners must remind officials of their investments in the community.

“Our advice is to keep it local and remind them that it’s local,” Villa said. “The owners of these businesses live in or around the community. Their kids go to school here. People need to be reminded of that. When you look at the rents a national franchise will pay through a local franchise owner and the traffic, those are all positives.”

Rodriguez of Mercury LLC in Los Angeles added that “restaurateurs need to voice their opposition early and often.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless