Dutch Bros. near ASU campus to relocate after Phoenix revokes permits

Located on Camelback and Central, Dutch Bros.' success will force the stand to move by 2020

With drive-thru lines that wrap around the store, the Dutch Bros. location on Camelback Road and Central Avenue is a business’ daydream and a traffic nightmare. 

But following complaints about traffic congestion from businesses and residents in the area, the city of Phoenix chose to revoke permits a couple of weeks ago that allow the business to operate its drive-thru window.

The location's walk-up window has already been closed for several months and customers must have a car to go through the drive-thru. The coffee-chain has until March 2020 to move before the drive-thru can no longer be operated, as initially reported in a story by The Arizona Republic.

The Camelback and Central location is the closest Dutch Bros. to ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

Josh Hayes, the local area operator for Dutch Bros., said that while the business plans to move for the sake of being "good neighbors," operating at the location has been worthwhile.

"We feel lucky. When we opened the store, we didn't know what would happen," Hayes said. The success the store has seen "has been beyond our wildest dreams," he said.

The action from the city comes after multiple complaints from businesses and residents about the inconvenience and potential hazards the location posed for the surrounding area. 

David King, an assistant professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, said the traffic caused by Dutch Bros. coffee is not exclusive to that location, and drive-thru coffee in general encourages "windshield urbanism." 

"I use that particular Dutch Bros. as an example of how dumb drive-thru coffee is," King said. "It's a terrible use of the space, the line spills over and blocks traffic or buses. Drive-thru coffee is problematic overall because of the amount of time it takes to order, especially when they're making all these drinks in such a small place." 

He also said that even though the Dutch Bros. location may have been generating business for itself, surrounding businesses had little hope of attracting those customers out of their cars and into shops. 

Businesses in the area joined efforts in November 2018 to submit a formal complaint to the city requesting it revoke the permits, according to the Republic story.

However, not all businesses around the area saw the Dutch Bros. location as detrimental.

Jason Anthony, owner of and artist for Golden Rule Tattoo said that Dutch Bros. was a good source of business for his tattoo parlor. 

“I really liked having those kids there,” Anthony said. “We’re in one of the largest cities in the country, of course there is going to be traffic. Whatever they put in that space after the Dutch Bros. moves is going to cause the same problems, it's just the nature of the area.” 

The drive-thru line to the coffee-chain often extends through a bus stop, which can cause pick-up and drop-off difficulties for buses and commuters. The location is also close to two high schools, which brings a great deal of traffic. 

Still, for some ASU students, the coffee shop's convenience is not enough to justify the traffic that the drive-thru causes. 

“It’s just a bad setup,” said Sean Gannon, a freshman studying engineering who has been to the Camelback and Central location, saying that the drive-thru makes the intersection more congested. 

“The area is so busy and there are a lot of narrow turns just to go through the line to get your drink," Gannon said. "Last time I went, there was a guy who had to direct drive-thru traffic.” 

Angie Holdsworth, spokesperson for the Phoenix Planning and Development department, said the Dutch Bros. permit case was presented to the department's board of adjustment a couple of weeks ago.

Initial drive-thru and walk-up window permits were granted to Dutch Bros. in 2008, according to initial reporting by The Arizona Republic.

“Permits are subject to compliance with stipulations and have to meet the tests of the use for that permit,” Holdsworth said via email. “It is not necessarily common for permits to be revoked, but it really is a case by case. Revocation is the last option, the intent is always to first try to work out and mitigate any problems.”

The shop's stand isn't permanently closing, it's moving to a new location, Holdsworth said. Dutch Bros. has already applied for a “pre-application review" for a proposed new location, she said, though it is too early to disclose a definite location. 

But the business aims to find a location in the nearby area, Hayes said.

"Conversations with the neighbors have been ongoing," he said. "The cool thing for us is that all of us have found a way to make it better."

Reach the reporter at kreinha3@asu.edu and follow @ReinhartKatelyn on Twitter.

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