Return of the Burger King

Burger King
Burger King will be allowed to reopen its restaurant at 34th & Nicollet with a drive-through after winning an appeal to a City Council committee. The building has been vacant since April 2018. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

Burger King will be allowed to reopen its restaurant at 34th & Nicollet with a drive-through, a Minneapolis committee ruled Feb. 6.

In December, the Minneapolis Board of Zoning and Adjustment unanimously voted to deny a nonconforming use certificate that would have allowed the chain to re-establish a drive-through at the currently vacant location.

But on appeal to the city’s zoning and planning committee, Burger King was granted the nonconforming use certificate after Minneapolis attorneys told committee members the corporation would have a strong legal case.

Burger King opened a restaurant at 34th & Nicollet in 1970, and the building has had a drive-through since 1964, according to city documents. In April 2018, the Burger King closed after the franchisee, P3 Foods, went bankrupt and the store has sat vacant since.

Today, Minneapolis prohibits new drive-through construction due to concerns over air and noise pollution from idling cars and the dangers posed to pedestrians from motorists seeking to access the restaurants. City policy holds that any property with a nonconforming use certificate loses those privileges if the property has been abandoned for a year. By the time Burger King applied for a new certificate in November, well over a year had passed.

Burger King representatives told the committee it was unable to take over the space within a year due to a long bankruptcy legal battle involving a trustee who was working to sell a large amount of kitchen equipment, preventing the corporation from accessing the space.

The city attorney’s office believed Burger King had evidence it had taken affirmative steps to act on the building before a year had elapsed. 

Burger King is planning to renovate the restaurant, representatives said, and needs three to four months to improve the building before opening.

The franchise also operated a North Minneapolis Burger King, which will also be able to re-open with a drive-through.

Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7) criticized Burger King for letting the properties fall into disrepair after P3’s bankruptcy. The company said it would start to do work on the grounds and exteriors soon.