116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Lee Staak recalls when his dining room at Hardee's in Coralville saw the bulk of his business.
But with fewer people venturing into his dining room, Staak made the decision to downsize that space when he rebuilt the restaurant, at 107 Second St., after it was significantly damaged by the June 2008 flood.
'Over the years, there has been a steady increase in our drive-through business as people have become very convenience-oriented,” Staak said. 'Today it generates about 70 percent of our business.”
Although he downsized the dining room, Staak expanded his kitchen to create two serving lines and added a second drive-up lane to handle increased traffic flow, particularly during the busy morning breakfast and noon lunch hours.
Staak was required to have enough queuing space in addition to parking for dine-in customers. He said Hardee's and other fast-food chains have responded over the years to changes in customer desires.
'We used to have very large dining rooms that had indoor play areas, meeting rooms and seating for 120 people,” Staak said. 'Now, this building has seating for 66 people, and very rarely does it get full.”
Nationwide, the drive-up window - on average - generates more than 70 percent of a restaurant's revenue, according to the National Restaurant Association. Customers made 12.4 billion trips in 2013 to the nation's drive-through windows.
But while more fast-food restaurant customers are using the drive-up lane, requirements for those restaurants' parking spaces haven't changed. And those requirements need to be met if restaurant operators and owners want to expand.
'The requirement is still 10 (spaces) per thousand square feet of gross floor area in the building,” said Vern Zakostelecky, land development coordinator for the city of Cedar Rapids. 'Typically we're finding many restaurant owners actually want more parking spaces, especially if they don't have a drive-up window.
'Many restaurants, like the Chick-fil-A at Lindale Mall, have begun installing double drive-up lanes. When we review their site plan, we look to make sure they have enough queuing space on their property, so vehicles do not back up into a public right of way.”
Zakostelecky said there must be enough space to accommodate five vehicles in each lane while they are waiting to order or receive food. That 'stacking” requirement is found in other Corridor communities.
Karen Howard, associate planner with the Urban Planning office of the Neighborhood and Development Services Department in Iowa City, said parking space requirements were revisited in 2005 when the city overhauled its zoning ordinance.
'One of the goals was to make sure we were not requiring too much parking, particularly for commercial uses,” Howard said. 'We ratcheted down some of our parking requirements at that time.”
Howard said the proposed location of a restaurant may requirement the site plan to be reviewed by Iowa City's Board of Adjustment.
'We need to make sure that the traffic circulation works, and it will not create any kind of traffic hazard,” Howard said. 'A review by the Board of Adjustment allows us to require certain conditions for approval.
'Obviously a sit-down restaurant in downtown Iowa City will have different parking requirements than a fast-food restaurant along a major arterial or suburban area.”
Howard said Iowa City bases parking requirements on floor area or seating area.
'If a restaurant doesn't have a lot of seating area, and it is primarily a carryout or drive-up fast-food restaurant, the parking requirement will be less,” she said. 'We require one parking space for every 150 square feet of floor area or parking spaces equivalent to one-third of the seating area - whichever is less.
'We require a minimum of four parking spaces for a strictly carryout business, such as a place where customers are picking up a pizza.”
Parking space requirements are typically written into zoning codes based on the Parking Generation manual published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), an international educational and scientific association of transportation professionals responsible for meeting mobility and safety needs.
The ITE manual predicts an average parking demand of 9.95 spaces per 1,000 square feet of floor area for a fast-food restaurant. Using that calculation, the requirement would be one parking space per 100 square feet of area, or about 40 spaces for an average fast-food restaurant.
Parking requirements also are set by federal government laws that provide for a minimum number of handicap spaces at fast-food restaurants.
Americans with Disabilities Act regulations require one handicapped parking space for every 25 spaces in the lot. For an average fast-food restaurant using the ITE parking requirements, the number of ADA-compliant parking spaces required would be two.