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Ex-Oakland Raider Chester McGlockton's "Fatburger" To Replace Kwik Way? 70 of 126 Say "No" In Online Poll

According to the Yahoo! Message Board Oakland District Two Councilmember Pat Kernighan has conducted a poll to gauge resident's views on Ex-Oakland Raider Chester McGlockton's proposal for a new Fatburger to be built at the current Kwik Way site at Lake Park near Lake Merritt. Surprisingly -- and in the face of Kernighan's support of the project -- 70 of 126 in poll voted "no." You can vote with a click on this sentence.

Here's a photo of the vote tally as it stands right now. It could change.

Here's the text that Kernighan wrote:

The Recent History at the Site

The Kwik Way property has been owned by the Hahn family for about the past seven years. Three years ago, they proposed leasing it to McDonald's. The community organized massive opposition to the McDonald's, primarily because of the increased traffic and litter it would bring to an already congested area. Over 500 people attended the Oakland Planning Commission to oppose the McDonald's, and the application was turned down.

Following the McDonald's rejection, several neighborhood leaders and a local developer began working with the Hahn family to find a use that would be economically viable for the Hahns as well as a benefit to the neighborhood. The Hahns and the developer began a partnership to develop a mixed use building with small retail on the ground floor and several floors of residences above. In the process, the Hahns also acquired the Serenader property next door so that there would be enough land to make it feasible.

About two years ago, the partnership convened a community visioning process in order to arrive at a project that would be supported by the neighborhood. In that process many design and traffic flow ideas were debated, and the outcome was a general agreement that a four-story building covering the whole site would be acceptable. The idea was that an attractively-designed building with cafes or shops on the bottom would create a more pedestrian-friendly street than the current open parking lot. (Though the new design still had driveways in and out for the interior parking.) Unfortunately, the partnership between the Hahns and the developer dissolved.

Then there was a second try at a mixed use development. About a year ago, another local developer entered into an option to buy the property. The condition for final purchase was that he determine that it was economically feasible to build a mixed use project there. After six months of exploration, that developer decided not to go through with it. There were a number of difficulties, among them that the Bank of America's lease entitles it to 30 parking spaces on the Kwik Way property. Perhaps most significantly, the developer calculated he needed to build at least 5 stories high in order to make it profitable to build the project, given the price he was paying for the land. From the earlier planning process, he concluded that five stories would engender opposition from the neighborhood, and he didn't want to buy given the uncertainty of getting approval from the City.

Where we are today

The Hahns are losing money on the Kwik Way and they have given up on the idea of a mixed use development. They realize the neighborhood is tired of the blighted appearance of the property and the nuisance behavior that occurs in the parking lot, especially at night. So the Hahns are proposing to lease the property to a very reputable hamburger restaurant chain, Fatburger.

When the Hahns let me know of their new plan, I asked them and the new franchisee to meet with me and some of the people who had originally led the McDonald's opposition. They did, and the following list of pros and cons derives from that conversation.


A Fatburger restaurant will be a big improvement over what is there now.

The Fatburger company, despite the unfortunate name, is a very well-run business. In the realm of hamburger restaurants, it offers a high quality product. In addition to hamburgers, fries and handmade milk shakes, it also serves chicken sandwiches, a veggie burger and salad. They cook to order, so technically it is not "fast food" like a McDonald's. Fatburger started in 1952 in Southern California, and is very popular in many cities. See www.fatburger.com.

The existing building will be renovated inside and out in a "retro" 1950's style, with a small addition on the back to store garbage out of sight. It will have about 27 seats for dining inside and is designed by a top flight architect. The surrounding parking lot will be cleaned up and re-landscaped.

The franchisee is Chester McGlockton, owner of All-Pro Eateries, (and former Oakland Raider) who also operates a Fatburger in Pleasant Hill. Based on his other businesses, we can count on him to run a clean, very well-managed restaurant.
Mr. McGlockton and team want to offer something positive to the neighborhood, serving local residents, especially Grand Lake movie-goers. They also plan to hire and train Oakland youth and young adults.

This restaurant lease may be the best option attainable, as the Hahns are no longer interested in selling the property.


Many neighborhood residents were hoping for a bigger and better change for the Kwik Way property. It has the potential for a high quality mixed-use development that would eliminate the surface parking lot, and create housing, and a more pedestrian-friendly street.

A lease to Fatburger would tie up the property for 15 to 20 years, thus foreclosing the opportunity for a different development for a very long time.

The new Fatburger will likely attract more customers and hence cars crossing the sidewalk. Further, it would include a drive-through window. (Though the operators foresee it being used mainly for picking up orders that are phoned in. Their food takes too long to cook for true "drive through." They will have a "greeter" outside to manage traffic.) Nevertheless, we can assume a traffic increase for take-out orders.

Current nuisance activities in the parking lot may continue late at night after the restaurant is closed.

The Choice

So, neighbors, we are faced with a "bird in the hand, two in the bush" situation. While a Fatburger restaurant may not be ideal, it certainly is a lot better than the status quo. And I believe that neighborhood reaction may affect the outcome. If there is widespread opposition, it will likely kill the deal. If that happens, what are we left with? The same old blighted property, with the uncertain hope that in four or five years when the housing market strengthens, the Hahns might be inclined to sell it to a developer. It's a tough choice. Please let me know your preference.

Here are the comments of the "No" voters, followed by those of the "Yes" voters...

Tracy Arrowsmith February 6, 2007, 11:41 AM
At first I was in the camp of anything would be better than the Kwik Way but after reading the Grandlake Guardian articles and all of the posts on this site, I have changed my mind. We already have a KFC, 2 gross burger joints (not counting the Kwik Way), China Lake Express, and other less desirable food places. I would love to see something better there. It would be worth the wait for someplace I would actually want to eat at. Some Indian food or something more in the spirit of Holy Land, Arizmendi, Lynn and Lu's, or Senor Neros. I walk by there almost every day and I would love to see a more desirable tenant as soon as possible but not at the expense of the possibility of something better. I am not ready to settle.
Byrne Reese February 6, 2007, 11:34 AM
I am continually dismayed by the current owners' lack of regard for the community's needs and desires. I don't blame them for being motivated profit, after all, they run a commercial enterprise. But at the same time I sincerely wish the owners showed the respect and commitment to our neighborhood that we do.
Mary Ellen Navas February 6, 2007, 11:04 AM
My vote is No, to Fat Burger and the Hahn family on this idea. My request is that you sell your properties or really invest in the neighborhood. Fat Burger is not good enough. Because Kwik Way is such a blight, this gets a grade of "D", instead of "F". It produces most of the same problems McDonald's did, so I'm not sure why we think it's better. It's a prettied up, sanitized bad-food "cooked to order" restaurant. It doesn't serve the neighborhood's needs; it doesn't match the way the neighborhood is growing; it is a major dis-service to the kids at Lakeview Elementary; and it potentially ties up the space for 15 to 20 years! We can do better, please. And thank you Pat, for this method of gathering and sharing input.
Sarah Lawrence February 6, 2007, 11:03 AM
Enough burgers! Although a local vendor would be best, I would not mind a chain that served fresh salads or seafood. Perhaps Alice Waters would be interested in opening up a small restaurant like her Fanny's on 4th Street? It would be a great addition to our Lakeshore experience.
Roger Davies February 6, 2007, 6:14 AM
How can we possibly vote to encourage a new fast food establishment selling junk food to be based in our neighborhood ?

If you have not yet seen the movie 'Supersize Me', you should rent it and see if this changes your opinion.

We know of the damage caused by this type of food, and also know that one reason our health care costs are going higher is to pay for those with bad eating habits.

I would rather hold out for something that will be beneficial to the neighborhood rather than another fast food restaurant - we already have too many of those.

We all held out for Trader Joes, and can surely hold out once more, for something that will be a benefit to our community.
Claire Smith February 5, 2007, 11:27 PM
Bad as it is, we have lived with Quick Way for the thirty years I've been in this area--we can live with it a little longer until a more suitable plan can be implemented. Just substituting a Fatburger for what we have wouldn't really be an improvement, so why do it? I say we hold out to get what we want in that area.
(anonymous) February 5, 2007, 10:42 PM
People, please. Any fast food establishment would be a bane on our community. Think about what’s there now – KwikWay. It attracts people who have nothing vested in this community. They eat their food, dump their multiple forms of waste, loiter and drive away.

I lived, literally, next door to KwikWay for two years. While there, heard numerous gunshots, witnessed multiple drug deals (called police and yes, they responded) and have had my parked car littered and damaged with rubbish. The parking lot was left to be a breeding ground for illegal activity, not just during the night hours, when the parking lot was left unlocked & unpatrolled, but also during the daytime – I’m sure we all are familiar with the illegal CD/DVDs being peddled there today.

I ask you to remember that there is a KFC just a stones throw away. What have they done to be a model tenant?

What does prove to be a gem, is Splash Pad Park & the lure of the Farmer’s Market. The mixed-use development is a great solution. You bring more people to the community who have a vested interest. What better way to police the area? And you also have an opportunity to offer independent business growth in the community.

With the current push to remove trans fats form our diets, I would think that a much healthier alternative would be sought. Fast food would not a great message to send to the nearby students at the elementary school. Let’s face it, we all need to eat healthier. Also, we won with Trader Joe’s. Why neutralize that victory with the fast food defeat? Why not just put a liquor store there?
Mike Chip February 5, 2007, 10:36 PM
Something more upscale will add value yto the neighborhood, there are already 2 burger joints within 500 yards in either direction as well as pizza places etc... Something that will add value to the meighborhood, compliment the splash pad/Sat market and draw evening business to the Grand Lake Theatre
Wesley Bailey February 5, 2007, 10:31 PM
Of all the business our neighborhood needs this is not one of them. Why should we encourage unhealthy eating habits when we all know obesity is a major issue amongst children especially. Besides there is already Adam's Burgers around the corner and would be in direct competition with this business. Also consider the traffic burden this type of fast food business would place on the already strained area. We didn't want McDonalds in the location why on earth would we want a fatburger?

I voice my opinion because I would like to convince my neighbors to join me in opposing this deplorable idea. The Grand/Lakeshore business district has been improving with a number of new business that meet the needs of the neighborhood and community. It is time to stop the property owners who do not live in our community from trashing our neighborhood. Lets ask them if they would like a fatburger right around the corner from their homes? Would they like the additional blight and traffice it would bring in their community? My guess is a resounding no so please do not let them do it to our neighborhood!

As an alternative how hard would it be for them sell the property altogether to a developer who could put the property to use with a mixed use commercial/residential building? There has to be something that can be done besides another unhealthy fast food chain.

The "Yes" voters..

(anonymous) February 6, 2007, 10:46 AM
Fatburger has a proven history of responsible and ethical work practices.
Their plans for the KwikWay site are realistic and well thought out and meet the needs of maintaining traffic flow in that area. The fact that the drive thru is discouraged is a big step in the right direction. I think we should give them a chance to present their plan to the community.
Kathy Dwyer February 6, 2007, 10:26 AM
Our neighborhood has been found to support eating establishments that offer good food and a clean environment. Fatburger offers both of these. This is a great opportunity which is viable, waiting for a mixed use project to come forward may take years, and do we really want to wait that long for the area to be improved?
(anonymous) February 6, 2007, 9:11 AM
Kwikway's gotta go. Put conditions on Fatburger that they restore Kwikway to its 50's style, and that they understand what it is to be a responsible neighbor.
(anonymous) February 6, 2007, 7:52 AM
I think that Fatburger would be a great addition to the neighborhood, as it is an established and successful chain. In addition, they would be sure to clean up and remodel the site.
Charlie Stephen February 5, 2007, 10:17 PM
The hamburger chain is reputable, the food is decent, and there won't be much drive-through traffic. Without this store, the property is likely to remain blighted for a long time to come.

Charlie Stephen
Christina Sutherland February 5, 2007, 9:39 PM
Absoultely! Anything that cleans that place up. Personally, I didn't oppose the McDonald's, although I would prefer other uses (including a Fatburger). I just can't stand how dirty that place is (inside and out), and what an eyesore it is to the whole street and facing the park. I know they are supposed to have good food -- and I am no junk food snob. But I can't imagine eating ANYTHING there, the surfaces and windows are all filthy and I can only imagine what I cannot see!

Christina Sutherland

What do you think? Go over and vote!
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