BAINBRIDGE — A popular Mexican fast food eatery originally planned for the former Ruby Tuesday site at the Marketplace at Four Corners is now being proposed for an adjacent property along Aurora Road.

The former Ruby Tuesday restaurant was slated to be the new home to a Chipotle Mexican Grill and Starbucks after the township’s Board of Zoning Appeals granted a conditional use permit in September of 2019 to developer Morgan Properties for a shopping strip at the site.

Demolition has since started to make way for development, but Chipotle now has its sights set on the former Steak ’n’ Shake building at 7020 Aurora Road by Giles Road.

Zoning Inspector Karen Endres said the restaurant’s architect approached her about the switch, but did not disclose their reasoning. She said that until the public board meeting, everything was to be kept under wraps, noting that she found out about the change about a week ago.

She added that, as far as she knows, the Starbucks should still be going in as an anchor tenant to the former Ruby Tuesday site, but she still needs to get in contact with the site’s developer for more information.

Right now, Mrs. Endres explained, the Chipotle restaurant is in the process of designing the former Steak ’ n’ Shake building through the architectural review process and that once the design and colors are confirmed, the next step would be to apply for a zoning certificate to make any proposed façade or commercial alterations.

At Monday’s trustees meeting, architect Christopher Burroughs of Red Architecture + Planning of Columbus and design manager Julie Koratich of Chipotle presented the proposed changes to the 4,300-square-foot Steak’n’Shake building.

He explained that the building is in need of general repair work, such as the replacement of bricks, awnings and the vestibule, among others.

In replacing the brick, Mr. Burroughs explained that due to the difficulty in finding brick that would match what is already in place for the rest of the building, the repairs would include painting over it in gray for uniformity and to match Chipotle’s “trade dress.” He said that the awnings would be black.

Upon reviewing the color palette, Trustee Jeff Markley addressed concerns that the dark grey paint and black awnings will not incorporate well with the surrounding buildings, which all have orange brick.

“I think that’ll be my one hang-up, is trying to figure out how to integrate it into an existing development,” he said.

Ms. Koratich said that while the dark gray and black match Chipotle’s trade dress, they should be capable of looking into alternatives for the structure’s proposed color palette.

Trustee Lorrie Sass Benza said that if this is not the case, the color might be okay because the building is a standalone building and is not so close that it would disrupt the theme of the township’s marketplace. She noted that she understands the desire for design flow in the township, but also acknowledged the desire to keep Chipotle’s trade look.

The proposed plans also showed that two parking spaces would be removed to make space for about 500 square feet of patio space in front of the Chipotle. Mr. Burroughs said this would include patio railing and lights and “Chipotle’s typical patio furniture.”

Mr. Markley said this would be another major concern due to the location of the patio in proximity to the travel lane of the property.

Mr. Burroughs said the railing would act as the safety for patrons.

When asked if there would be any reinforcement to the railing, Ms. Koratich said the railings are solid steel as opposed to the typical hollow aluminum used in most restaurant patios.

“Bainbridge is awfully sensitive to storefronts or putting people right on the edge of the pavement,” he said, recounting a 2015 fatality when an SUV jumped a curb and crashed into the storefront of an East Washington Street restaurant. “We’re very mindful of the placement of diners relative to moving traffic.”

Ms. Koratich said that there should not be any issues in looking into reinforcement options and that if conditions demand it, they can be changed.

No decisions were made on the proposal Monday night. The board agreed to table the proposal for further review at the next regular board meeting on March 23.

Sam Cottrill started reporting for the Times in February 2019 and covers Auburn, Bainbridge, Bentleyville and Chagrin, Kenston, Solon and West Geauga schools. She graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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