Chicken fight over: McDonald's can build in Clovis near El Pollo Loco

The Fresno BeeMay 2, 2014 

McDonald's is finally building a new restaurant at one of the busiest intersections in Clovis, ending a squabble with a chicken-centric restaurant that reached peak squawk last year.

McDonald's got the green light to build at Shaw and Clovis avenues after nearly 18 months of negotiations with officials from El Pollo Loco, property owners and leasing officials for the shopping center.

The dispute began when El Pollo Loco, also a fast-food restaraunt, said a new McDonald's ran afoul of an agreement in El Pollo Loco's lease that allows it to be the chief chanticleer for chicken sales at the shopping center.

El Pollo Loco noted that chicken items sold under the golden arches exceed the threshold -- which was not revealed by negotiators -- specified in its lease, scratching a line in the sand and setting the stage for the great Clovis chicken fight.

McDonald's was in a quandary -- the site of the old service station at Shaw and Clovis avenues was not roomy enough for vehicles to queue up in its drive-through lanes without possibly spilling onto Shaw Avenue, said Clovis Planning Director Dwight Kroll.

The city's planning commission approved a 1-acre project -- site of the former Gateway Shell -- provided that McDonald's could acquire a piece of land in the neighboring shopping center where El Pollo Loco is perched.

City officials said they would not bend rules on the lot size, but they also were eager to enhance a busy intersection with new construction and landscaping on now-vacant dirt.

Over the past 18 months, all sides pecked away at a deal, said Tom Anderson, a partner with Commercial Retail Associates, which represents the McGarry Trust, owners of the shopping center, and McDonald's.

"Adding traffic to that center and improving circulation were positives that they (El Pollo Loco) had to weigh against the new competition," Anderson said. "It was a complicated business decision for them."

Officials from El Pollo Loco did not return calls this week.

The McGarry Trust wanted McDonald's at the corner. Dennis Prindiville, a McGarry family trustee, said El Pollo Loco has a lease with Daytom Enterprises, a Beverly Hills firm that leases the shopping center from the trust.

McGarry Trust had no beef with the McDonald's plan, Prindiville said.

To get the deal done "was a very long, drawn-out process, " Prindiville said.

The property is fenced and construction is under way. McDonald's is expected to open this summer.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.

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