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Subway restaurant idea sparks petition; Town Council discussion on possible fast-food restrictions Dec. 2
— This correct date of the Friday Harbor Town Council meeting is Dec. 2. The Town Council meets the first and third Thursday of every month.
UPDATE: The Friday Harbor Town Council will discuss possible restrictions on fast-food franchise restaurants Dec. 2, at a venue to be determined.
About 22 cities across the U.S. have laws that restrict the number of formula retail stores and/or restaurants that can locate in their jurisdictions, according to information supplied by Town Clerk Amy Taylor. Some laws restrict the building size and regulate the location.
Mayor Carrie Lacher, who was once quoted as saying that a fast-food franchise would be OK in town, said she has changed her mind.
"Fast-food franchises send a message when you enter a town, and it's a message I'd rather not send," she said. "The message I prefer to send is we are a local, rural, very eclectic community that is proud of its heritage. Fast-food franchise restaurants would detract from that."
SanJuanJournal.com's earlier story on the issue:
The idea of a restaurant franchise in Friday Harbor — specifically Pat and Stephanie O'Day's idea of a Subway restaurant — is sparking a petition and a Town Council discussion.
On the Town Council agenda at 12:30 p.m. Thursday — today — is "Council discussion of franchise take-out food restaurants." Citizen response follows on the agenda after approval of minutes and discussion of future agenda items, although the mayor has the authority to allow citizen comment at any time.
And as of Wednesday, 140 people had signed a petition expressing their opposition to a Subway restaurant locating in town.
The O'Days were considering opening a Subway franchise at 310 Spring St., on the bottom floor of the historic yellow house once occupied by Ositos and, later, Creme Brulee. She was not available for comment Thursday, but on Monday her daughter, Kelsey, said that location may not be available because a ramp would be required to make the site wheelchair accessible, and any alterations would have to be approved by the condominium association.
If it happens, Subway would be one of several franchises in Friday Harbor: CarQuest Auto Parts, NAPA Auto Parts, Radio Shack and, in real estate, Coldwell Banker, Sotheby's and Windermere. John L. Scott was also a franchise of the national real estate company of the same name.
A franchise is a business which contracts to sell another business' product or service, operating under the franchisor's trade name in exchange for a fee. Franchises are usually independently owned.
But some islanders have expressed concern about the quality of food served at franchises, as well as the impact on local businesses and the streetscape.
The petition was started by Hungry Clam owners Stacey and Lisa Brown about two weeks ago. A copy of the petition, entitled "Say No Way to Subway," is also being circulated at Roy's Drive-Thru and Deli.
According to Lisa Brown, the reason for the petition is simply to "show how many people don't want a Subway here." The petition, Brown said, will be presented to the Town Council and to executives at Subway's regional headquarters once the signature drive comes to an end.
Prior to Wednesday's lunch rush, 101 people had signed the Hungry Clam's petition while John Hurley and Ashley Buchanan of Roy's Drive-Thru had collected another 39. Hurley believes the petition would have a lot more signatures if he remembered to have it in hand while serving his customers.
Hurley maintains that fast-food franchises, such as Subway, are able to offer merchandise at a price that a business that's independently owned can't.
"My take on it is that small businesses can't compete with corporate pricing," he said.
Meanwhile, Buchanan worries about what else could happen if a fast-food franchise were to succeed in Friday Harbor.
"It would open the door for a lot of bad things on this island," she said.
In a letter posted on SanJuanJournal.com, chef Roberto Carrieri writes that he is most concerned about the healthiness of food. He said it's up to consumers to ask questions, no matter what kind of restaurant it is.
"There are many questions you can ask about different menu items, for example: Are the salad dressings made at the restaurant or do they come from gallon jars and come from some place like Delaware? Did they make the croutons or fruit pies or did they buy them frozen somewhere in Ohio? And on and on. I hope you get my point that the food business is not like other business — as long as you know that what you’re eating may be chemically induced and processed and you're not being fooled with words like 'homemade,' 'natural' or 'fresh,' then it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s a national chain, regional chain or 'Mom and Pop' establishment."
In an earlier interview, Stephanie O'Day said she doesn't see any difference between a food franchise and other franchises in town. "It's just a sandwich shop. I think it would be a great addition to the community. People know what the product is — it's good, healthy food. Some people may grumble for a while, but ultimately they're going to come and eat here."
— With reporting by Scott Rasmussen and Richard Walker