The days of the area east of the Louise Avenue exit off of Interstate-5 being the only place in Lathrop to grab food to-go are long gone.
In the last year, residents west of I-5 got their first chain restaurant additions in the Target shopping center with the construction of a Starbucks and an In-N-Out Burger and will soon have the option of the wildly-popular Chipotle, which is currently under construction on the north side of the complex. All three of the locations are drive-thru restaurants and will provide more robust options for residents eating out during the COVID-19 pandemic either by staying in their vehicles and using the drive-thru or using one of the popular restaurant delivery apps like Doordash or Grubhub.
The arrival of the new options comes after years of the city’s work to attract businesses to cater to the growing residential population thanks to large-scale developments in places like River Islands and Central Lathrop, and to augment the business base the city has been slowly building with massive warehouse and light industrial developments that have brought the likes of In-N-Out, Home Depot, and now Wayfair — providing jobs for the residents moving into the city limits.
And it’s not just that one corridor that is getting an overhaul.
One freeway exit north off of I-5 at Lathrop Road will soon have a Sonic Drive-In and a Dutch Bros. Coffee drive-thru to augment the Panda Express that opened in the last year — providing freeway options while at the same time serving the local community near an area is a relatively recent development.
The area has become one of the central commercial cores of the community in recent years with the addition of the Save mart shopping center nearby that included the city’s first Starbucks location and a host of chain and independent businesses that serve residents of Woodfield Estates, Historic Lathrop, and new development west of I-5 as well as freeway travelers.
With the widening of Lathrop Road completed, access to the new development that will house the three businesses — which is located across from an island of land created by the construction of New Harlan Road — will require improvements such as a signalized crosswalk at Lathrop Road, a sidewalk along the frontage of the existing Chevron location, and re-alignment of Old Harlan Road to allow for left turns for traffic headed north back to Lathrop Road.
The explosion of options comes as evidence that the city’s business-friendly approach towards growing the retail, commercial, and industrial segments of the community are working — part of a long-term approach that multiple Lathrop city councils have followed in the wake of the disastrous economic downturn of 2008 that crippled the city’s finances.
The new restaurants will also add to the city’s coffers through the one-cent sales tax increase that was approved by voters in 2012 to augment public safety and municipal services – a fund that has been significantly boosted as the city’s tax base has grown in the seven years since it was implemented.