By Curt Peterson
RUTLAND—Two international brands have found Rutland an interesting site for their franchises.
Both Starbucks and Five Guys Burgers have approached officials with proposals to open a new location in town.
With a population of 16,595 and ranked the third largest municipality in the state after Burlington and South Burlington, according to the most recent census, Rutland seems a natural for franchise development, and the city is actively pursuing new businesses.
The Starbucks franchise, with 24,000 stores in 70 countries, would replace the building previously operated as Royal’s Hearthside Restaurant since 1962 at 37 North Main Street, at the corner of Routes 4 and 7. The age of the building is a question – records have it built in either 1800 or 1900. It is on the Historic Register.
Some town officials hope Starbucks would preserve the structure, but others say it has been vacant long enough – five years – and the well-known coffee shop would be a good replacement.
The visual image for the new Starbucks submitted by Detroit-based developer Alrig USA, however has not inspired the Architecture Review Committee, which was concerned about what they called “the Vermont vernacular” and the appearance of Rutland’s “gateway” area. Suggestions have been made regarding possible design changes.
The Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchise, proposed by Hyde Park Ventures, hopes to renovate the former Mobil station at 5 North Main Street, removing the gasoline tanks, pumps, island and canopy, adding about 450 square feet to the front of the building, and configuring for 40-vehicle parking.
Another 150 square feet addition would house a walk-in cooler, and the plans include a sidewalk across the front of the property, which is owned by MT Associates, LLC.
This property has been vacant, since December 2017.
The Design Review Board reviewed the 5 Guys proposal at their Aug. 1 meeting.
Architecturally, Hyde Park plans to add white clapboarding and brick to the front, and painting the rest of the building to match.
DRB chairman Mike McClallen instructed the applicant regarding the approval process, and the meeting was adjourned on a positive note, according to the minutes.
The Mountain Times contacted both Starbucks and Five Guys headquarters, but both companies declined to discuss details due to unfinished details in their permit and approval negotiations.