The Cherry Hill Planning Board on Monday night approved plans for a CHOPT salad restaurant — with a new type of drive-through lane — at the former Pier 1 store site on Haddonfield Road.
Other tenants in the building will be an &pizza restaurant, a Trinity Rehab office and a Wild Fork Foods meat and seafood market, according to the plans from developer Cherry Hill Partners at Park Place of Piscataway, Middlesex County.
Under the plan, a drive-through window at the CHOPT restaurant will be reserved for customers who ordered online and are picking up their food. No orders will be taken in the lane, according to the plans.
The board voted 7-1 in favor of the plan. Board member Marlyn Kalitan, who objected to the number of signs and was concerned about traffic and parking, was the sole dissenter.
Township Community Development Supervisor Natalie Shafiroff said more proposals are expected in the future for drive-through lanes that are for handing over online orders only. The new style is more efficient than traditional drive-throughs, where customers place their orders and wait in line.
"There's no sitting and ordering 30 things for everybody at the office," Shafiroff said at the board caucus before the meeting. "I think we're going to start seeing a lot more of these."
Ronald Aulenbach, director of engineering at Edgewood Properties Inc., said the company has four signed leases from the businesses that will move into the old Pier 1 building at 801 Haddonfield Road. Edgewood Properties operates the retail center at the former Garden State Park.
Aulenbach said there will be no menu board or cash changing hands in the CHOPT drive-through lane. He said customers will be notified by text when their online orders are ready.
"This is the first time they're trying the mobile pick-up window," Aulenbach said of CHOPT.
Board members focused on several sign variances the property owner proposed for the new tenants, challenging whether the requested number of signs is necessary.
"Every building in Cherry Hill has four sides to it, but that doesn't mean that every building gets four signs," Kalitan said.
In its approval, the board scaled back the sign request.
Only one member of the public, Michael Kopack, spoke about the plan for the four new businesses and said he was concerned about an increase in traffic.
Kopack lives on Derby Court on the Garden State Park site near the former Pier 1 building and said it is increasingly difficult to turn onto Haddonfield Road. He told the board that the expected number of employees and customers for the four new tenants likely would be greater than the number of employees and customers at Pier 1.
Board member Kalitan said she agreed that four businesses would generate more traffic than one. She also said she believed the number of parking spaces proposed was too limited, particularly for the food market.
CHOPT Creative Salad Company was founded in 2001 by college friends and is described as a "leader of the premium salad segment" on the company's LinkedIn page. The original location was in New York City's Union Square and it now has 65 locations in New York City, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Connecticut, Westchester County in New York, suburban Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama, according to the page.
The salad company's website shows five New Jersey locations: Paramus, Florham Park, Montvale, New Providence and Princeton. The Princeton location is the farthest south.
&pizza has four North Jersey restaurants and three in Philadelphia, including near the University of Pennsylvania campus. When Wild Fork Foods moves into the Haddonfield Road building, it would be the first location in the Northeast, according to the locations on the company's website. Several outlets are in Florida with others in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.