Representatives of the Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation recently talked with Ocean Beach activist Jackie Sanders about how that community would greet proposals for a KFC drive-thru. “I hope people like their chicken well done,” Sanders joked. His lighthearted reference dates to the fire-bombing of two local Winchell’s Donut stores in 1978 – the climax of a drive against Winchell’s unsuccessful plans for an Ocean Beach outlet.
Though a spokesman at Kentucky Fried Chicken’s regional office says “there’s nothing secure yet,” the site under scrutiny is a defunct gas station at the corner of Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs. Initial reaction of the O.B. Planning Board, which holds sway with the city hall permit process, is negative. “I don’t think it’ll go unless they make some incredible sacrifices,” says Ken Erhardt, planning board chairman. Erhardt says fellow board members will want guarantees that the drive-thru will be designed to encourage more on-site dining, thus cutting traffic jams and pollution, and that the company will help control litter. Erhardt also doesn’t want the Colonel’s smiling, neon face reigning high over Ocean Beach.
And there’s the dilemma of saying no to Burger King and McDonald’s executives who may get visions of a profitable “fast-food row” popping up along Sunset Cliffs at the entrance to O.B. Activist Sanders points out that Ferreira’s Delicatessen on Sunset Cliffs and West Point Loma has already been investigated by the Southland Corporation as a possible site for a future 7-Eleven store. (Southland is also interested in the Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs site that has Kentucky Fried Chicken’s attention.) Winchell’s had its eye on a site nearby on Sunset Cliffs and Lotus, and Sanders says two aging buildings across the street on Lotus could easily give way to another take-out store. The existing Jack-in-the-Box and the prospective Kentucky Fried Chicken (or 7-Eleven) could bring to five the total number of drive-thrus.
But the planning board does show signs of moderation and a willingness at least to discuss the issue with KFC officials, something the activists who fought Winchell’s plans (Tom Yamaguchi and Tom Kozden for example) would never do. And planning board members recently sent a “letter of commendation” to the Jack-in-the-Box corporation praising remodeling of the chain’s Voltaire Street store. “They decided to use only one sign on the restaurant wall,” explained board president Erhardt. “That’s certainly less obnoxious than the five-foot-square sign over in Pacific Beach.”