Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Taco John’s, Popeyes Opening Near Airport

Plan Commission okays two new fast food places in vacant site at 5th and Layton.

By - May 17th, 2022 10:04 am
350 W. Layton Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

350 W. Layton Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

Two new fast-food restaurants are planned for W. Layton Ave. near Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.

A 2,400-square-foot Taco John’s restaurant would be built at the northeast corner of the intersection of W. Layton Ave. and S. 5th St. Immediately to its east, a 2,450-square-foot Popeyes restaurant would be constructed.

The two restaurants would be built in tandem as outlot buildings in front of a Courtyard by Marriott Milwaukee Airport Hotel.

The hotel was deliberately set back from the street to create future development sites. The two restaurants would join an existing Golden Corral buffet restaurant at 300 W. Layton Ave. to fill the front of the site.

The City Plan Commission unanimously endorsed their designs on Monday afternoon.

The two restaurants require special legislative approval because they are being built on a site zoned for the never-built Layton Plaza, planned as an “upscale shopping plaza.” The city created a development incentive overlay zone, which lessens the number of approvals needed, for the site in 2004. Proposals in incentive zones only require commission approval, avoiding the need to receive full Common Council approval.

Since the Layton zone’s creation, the hotel was constructed in 2011 on the four-acre rear site addressed as 4620 S. 5th St. Golden Corral was constructed in 2018 on a 2.76-acre site.

The two new restaurants would split the remaining 1.76-acre site, addressed currently as 350 W. Layton Ave.

It is owned today by Demetrios Dimitropoulos, who owns the Culver’s restaurant across the street at 575 W. Layton Ave. as well as others in the Milwaukee area. “I’ve got a long-term interest in the area and how things go,” he told the commission.

“An extensive amount of investigation has gone on,” said project architect Adam Stein of Logic Design & Architecture. “I feel really good about the overall site layout.”

Area Alderman Scott Spiker said Department of City Development and Department of Public Works officials had worked to address the concerns of neighbors, including how drivers could exit onto S. 5th St.

Stein said drive-through lines for food orders were designed to back up on the two restaurant properties. He said parking counts were reduced from the original restaurant requests. But unlike in many urban sites, there still would be enough parking so that no one needs to risk the parking being full. “If we don’t provide enough parking, then a guest that’s coming needs to recirculate the site,” said the architect.

Pedestrian access will be provided via sidewalks that go directly to a door by cutting through 19-foot-deep landscaping buffers along W. Layton Ave.

Commissioners raised concerns about a “love that chicken” sign proposed for the west side of the Popeyes. It would be painted on the building in a style that resembles graffiti.

“Do you have to have that on there? It kind of looks like graffiti,” asked Commission Chair Stephanie Bloomingdale. She said it could serve to attract more graffiti.

“That’s why I brought it up,” said Commissioner Tarik Moody.

Stein said it is the tenant’s preference. The design was approved without it being removed.

The corridor is lined by a mix of restaurants and other airport-related uses. A few blocks to the west is a cluster of Muslim-owned businesses and the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. Construction is again underway on the Layton Lofts apartment building at 800 W. Layton Ave., a development that was stalled earlier this year over an issue with the design of the water service line.



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