At issue was whether adding soup to its menu and peanut butter and
bananas to its sandwich ingredients lifted the shop out of the
definition of a formula-based business. Such "chain store"-type
businesses are discouraged by the Downtown Specific Plan.
The plan also precludes restaurants in the "fast food" category,
except in the food court near the corner of Broadway and South Coast
"I wanted to rent space in the food court, but the owner turned me
down," franchise spokesman Greg Ficke said. "Then he went directly to
Subway. He was turned down because Subway already had a relationship
However, Ficke claimed his shop would not be a carbon copy of
other Subways, but custom-built, staffed and provisioned to fit
Laguna's specifications for diversity that would exempt the shop from
the fast-food, formula-based prohibition.
"We will have the traditional Subway ingredients, but so much
more," Fiske said. "We will be the only Subway to offer salads."
The last Subway applicant for the Broadway location also claimed
his proposal was different -- he had gotten permission to toast bread
Ficke kicked it up a notch with a guarantee that the counter staff
would not wear the usual Subway uniforms, and the restaurant sign
would differ from the corporate standard.
Even so, city staff recommended against the approval, based on its
finding that the shop met the city criteria for fast-food and
City Planner Monica Tuchscher noted that the restaurant, in
whatever category it fit, would replace retail space, not favored by
the specific plan. Staff also had an issue with the parking plan,
which was proposed on an adjacent private lot with substandard stall
lengths, and because three of the required spaces were not actual
spaces but "credits" granted by earlier uses.
Ficke said the space he proposed to rent had been vacant for four
Former Planning Commissioner Barbara Metzger, speaking for Village
Laguna, claimed the retailer at that location was ousted by the
building owner while still a viable business and tenant.
"You [council] are asked to replace traditional resident-serving