In early October, an attorney representing Burger King reached out to Dana Johnson, a community leader in the Garfield neighborhood.
The attorney said a developer partnering with Burger King planned to build a drive-thru restaurant at the corner of Seventh and Portland streets, just a block south of Interstate 10.
If you take Seventh Street northbound after work, you know all three lanes at this location turn into bumper-to-bumper hell as the blue autumn sky cedes to a sublime gradient of purple, red, and orange.
The lot in question is currently occupied by a brick, L-shaped building that serves mom-and-pop businesses, including a laundromat, a print shop, and a couple cellphone stores. The structure looks drab, but Garfield neighbors said the intersection would not be improved by commuters trucking in and out to try the Impossible Whopper ®.
A drive-thru would indisputably increase backup along Seventh Street. Or as Johnson put it to Phoenix New Times
: "A drive-thru is not a good place in that cluster-funked street."
Still, Johnson told the attorney he'd present the idea to neighbors and welcomed developers to a community meeting.
About a month later, Burger King backed away from the drive-thru proposal.
City Council member Carlos Garcia, whose district includes Garfield, confirmed the fast-food restaurant's decision in a text October 28. He did not respond to a request for further comment. Nor did Burger King. Nor did Evergreen Development, the retail developer
that eyed the lot for a fast-food restaurant. Nor did Vertical Design Studio, the architectural firm that submitted a plan for the lot in February 2018.
Johnson, who serves as president of the Garfield Organization, said neighbors expressed several concerns over a proposed drive-thru at the meeting and on social media. Some lamented the impending loss of the neighborhood's only laundromat, the Kwik Wash. Others would have preferred to see a local business or grocery store open in its stead. But the biggest concern, Johnson said, was traffic.
"People said they have nothing against Burger King, but this is not the place for a drive-thru," Johnson said.
Commuters at Seventh and Portland streets who are craving the King will have to drive two-and-a-half miles to the location at Thomas Road and North 16th Street.