It’s long been the fast food equivalent of the Holy Grail for those in the burger-and-fry business on Gallivan Boulevard: a drive-thru. Tonight, the owner of the McDonald’s restaurant on Gallivan Boulevard will gallantly attempt to persuade neighbors in Cedar Grove that it’s time to install one there — despite a long history of community opposition dating back to the mid-1960s.
Jeff Brewster, who owns and operates several McDonald’s in the Boston area, will make his case in front of the full membership of the Cedar Grove Civic Association, which meets tonight at 7 p.m. at St. Brendan’s Fr. Lane Hall.
Sean Weir, president of the civic group, said that Brewster has won high praise from neighbors for his management of the restaurant since taking over four years ago. He even won the association’s Good Neighbor award last spring for his work in cleaning up the property and won an award from Boston Police for helping them curb drug deals by installing security cameras. Still, Weir says that opposition to the idea of a drive-thru runs wide and deep among his membership.
“It’s the same stand that [the civic group] has had with every owner as far back as I can remember: The site is just too tight for a drive-thru,” Weir told the Reporter today. “Then, to add more cars into the area, when the traffic down there is a nightmare as it is? It’s just too congested.”
Weir says that Brewster met with a small group of abutters in August and was told that the drive-thru is a non-starter. Still, Brewster wants and will get a full hearing at tonight’s meeting.
Brewster tells the Reporter that he has already commissioned a traffic study— which he claims shows no adverse impacts from the drive-thru. But he has not yet filed any paperwork with the city to get the permits he would need to operate a drive-thru.
"I just want to meet with the neighborhood and get their input," Brewster said. "That’s the right thing to do."
Weir says that the civic group’s bylaws state that members must pay their dues by tonight to have a vote on the McDonald’s issue. The vote will take place at the October meeting, Weir says.
The drive-thru issue last flared in 1998, when former franchise owner Bob Hogan successfully lobbied to build a new McDonald’s building on the corner site at Gallivan and Granite Ave. The restaurant replaced a McDonald’s structure that dated back to 1965. At the time, neighbors secured a promise from Hogan and his attorney that no drive-thru service would be included in the new eatery’s plans.