Return of the ‘King’ slows traffic

A required left turn into the new Burger King on 35th Street and Highway 101 has led to some traffic interruption during its opening week. (Photos by Mark Brennan/Siuslaw News)

Burger King’s opening week affects driving, bus patterns

Oct. 1, 2021 — Burger King, the multinational fast food chain, opened for business in Florence on Sept. 28. This marks the return of the restaurant to our area. A previous location, located where Florence Pharmacy now operates, closed in the early 2000s.

While some sit-down style restaurants are struggling here in Florence, as indicated by the handful that went out of business in 2021, Burger King may not have the same problem, if the first few days since its opening are any indication.

Since opening doors Tuesday afternoon, the restaurant’s lines have, at times, stretched out of the parking lot and on to 35th Street.

This was an issue on opening night for some parents, whose children’s bus ride home was delayed by excited Burger King customers’ line of cars. This required Siuslaw School District buses to be rerouted around the area.

“It’s totally unacceptable that the school bus cannot get through, causing several children to wait even longer to get home because they are not doing some kind of traffic control on opening day,” said local resident Jenn Lukashev on Facebook.

The Siuslaw School District did confirm that there were some issues with buses being slowed down by hungry Burger King patrons waiting in line, but wanted to let the community know they have plans in place to deal with situations just like this.

“We had a few delays but when you have a new business open like that we expect it. Everyone wants a Whopper, right?” said a representative of the school district. “We just rerouted the buses. We do that if we have construction delays or areas we temporarily can’t access. To be clear, we aren't complaining. We did have to go around on the first day, but that’s not out of the ordinary at all. We just make a few phone calls and make some minor route changes.”

Also affected by the traffic were people living in the neighborhood around Burger King. Those residents are hoping things get sorted out soon.

“What’s happening is, because they’re not letting them (people in line) turn left into Burger King, they're going down and turning left on Spruce then turning around on 37th,” said neighborhood resident Belinda Shores. “After they turn around, they don’t stop when getting back on Spruce, which is creating a dangerous situation for people living in the neighborhood. I’m sure it's going to quiet down but right now with people not being able to turn left into Burger King it's causing some problems.”

Things seem to be improving though as of press deadline and lines didn’t seem as long, though a left turn was still the only option to turn into Burger King off 35th Street.

Burger King Shift Manager Daniel Morris said traffic like this is typical of a newly opened Burger King, adding the community has generally been understanding.

The restaurant received help with the traffic, too.

“Florence Police were very helpful in helping to direct traffic when things got really backed up,” Morris said. “When we’ve noticed the lines are getting especially long, we’ve also sent our staff out to personally let people waiting know that it might be quicker if they got out of line and came into our dining room and ordered. That also helped to lessen the pressure on the traffic.”

Besides the traffic situation, Morris says things have gone relatively smooth.

“We’ve run into a few of the normal things that you run into when you first open, programming issues with our computers, things like that, but all and all we’ve been able to just keep on rolling,” he said.

Burger King is located at the corner of 35th Street and Highway 101 and is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., except Sunday when it opens at 7 a.m.

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