A city staff committee voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend against approval of a new turnaround aisle that would wipe out an existing outdoor dining area at the front of the McDonald’s restaurant on Dempster Street in Evanston.

A site plan showing the turnaround-aisle and the planned dual drive-thru lanes at the rear of the building.

James Quinn, an attorney for McDonald’s, told the city’s Design and Project Review Committeee the company believes the new turnaround on the site would help reduce traffic problems caused by drivers who enter from Dodge Avenue and then go around the building and swing out onto Dempster Street to get in line to place orders at the drive-thru.

James Quinn.

But Johanna Nyden, the city’s community development director, said the change would make the site less safe for pedestrians.

Johanna Nyden.

“We do so much in this community to make it more walkable and pedestrian friendly,” Nyden said.

The drive aisle to the existing drive-thru window. (Google Maps)

Noting a Google Maps image that showed teens lingering in the drive aisle through the parking lot, she added, “Hundreds of young people walk through the neighborhood to go to McDonald’s and Burger King every day”

She suggested the new turnaround lane would only create more conflict points between cars and pedestrians.

The city’s zoning administrator, Scott Mangam, suggested reconfiguring the drive-thru so that drivers entering the property from Dodge could get in line without having to loop back out onto Dempster.

City Engineer Lara Biggs said the new design might improve safety for vehicles, but it doesn’t maximize safety for pedestrians.

The plans next go for a hearing before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 25.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Drive-thru ordering is slower than going inside

    From observation, I see that using the drive-thru is slower than parking and ordering inside the McDonald’s

  2. Good work from city staff

    The craziest thing about their application is how much parking they have! I counted about 50 spaces! There really is no reason to degrade the pedestrian environment when they aren’t using even close to exhausting their parking capacity. Good work city staff.

  3. Failure in design

    Whoever designed/approved the layout of the locations of the stores in this vacinity (McDonald’s and Starbucks) deserves to be reprimanded.

    Too many times, Dempster Street is congested because of people trying to turn right/left into these stores.

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