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Carl's Jr. Gets OK for Outlet in La Canada


It was a battle pitting one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Southern California against a hamburger mogul.

And when it was over, Carl Karcher, the man who built a hot dog and burger stand in South-Central Los Angeles into a multimillion-dollar fast-food chain, had won.

Karcher, chairman emeritus of Carl Karcher Enterprises and pitchman for Carl's Jr., came himself to the La Canada Flintridge City Council meeting Monday night to win permission for a drive-through restaurant near the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Glendale (2) freeways, where an eight-screen cinema complex is planned. The proposed Carl's Jr. had met with sniffs from nearby residents, who said the brightly lit drive-throughs did not fit in with the nearby neighborhood, where homes fetch $600,000 to $1 million.

"The whole thing is, this is in La Canada," said Cindy Wilcox, a neighborhood leader who filed an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision to OK the permit for a drive-through Carl's Jr.

"How many people will come from Los Angeles, Pasadena and Glendale?" wondered Brian Hummel.

Added Rick Myers, "I don't think it's the character and integrity we want to see in La Canada."

The neighbors said they were afraid the restaurant would bring crime and traffic to the peaceful streets near Descanso Gardens.

But Karcher assured council members the restaurant would generally cater to theatergoers and city residents.

"I'd say 90% of our restaurants are drive-throughs, and they never cause any problems," Karcher said.

Developer Gary Zentmyer, who is building the cinema complex, and city business leaders said the entire project, the biggest La Canada development in 30 years, would fall apart financially without the Carl's Jr. participation.

"Are we going to have a great big grass weed lot for the next 20 years?" asked Paul Hartung, chairman of the local business support committee, referring to the project site.

After two hours of debate, the council voted 3 to 2 to deny Wilcox's appeal and support a drive-through with a provision it will review its hours of operation six months after it opens. It would be the city's third drive-through operation.

Council members Joan C. Feehan, John W. Hastings and Mayor David Spence voted for the permit, saying the cinema complex was vital to the city. Council members Carol J. Liu and Jim Edwards dissented.

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