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Thousands sign petition after restaurant told to shut down drive-thru window

The restaurant, Taco Boy, opened its drive-thru window at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to keep the eatery going during the pandemic.
Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 3:52 PM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (WJRT) - A popular restaurant in Mount Pleasant has been told to shut down its drive-thru window by city officials but its owner is hoping they will reconsider.

The restaurant, Taco Boy, opened its drive-thru window at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to keep the eatery going during the pandemic.

“We opened up our drive-thru window up during COVID so I could keep all my employees employed and try to keep my restaurant open,” said Robert Baltierrez, the restaurant’s owner.

Baltierrez said Taco Boy has been in the community for 50 years and has always tried to cooperate with any city demands.

Last week, city officials approached Baltierrez and said that the drive-thru on the backside of the restaurant was no longer allowed.

“A city official came in told me to, you know, they worked me on this drive-thru during the pandemic but now I need to shut it down,” Baltierrez said.

Baltierrez said he was told that the drive-thru was not legally permitted and that the city only tolerated it because of the pandemic. Baltierrez said he didn’t understand because the pandemic continues.

Last week, local health officials confirmed the first case of the delta variant in Isabella County. That variant is more contagious and can spread easier. State data also shows that Isabella County has the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate in Mid-Michigan.

With this in mind, Baltierrez said he wants to keep the drive-thru open. It accounts for nearly 50% of the restaurant’s business. So, to help garner support to change the city’s mind, a petition was started. That petition now has more than 2,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon.

“I appreciate all of the support people give me because it’s important to us,” Baltierrez said. “Without that support, without customers like that you don’t have a business and it’s tough. It’s a tough business these days and when you can keep going for 50 years, it means you are doing something right to keep the community happy.”

Baltierrez said that he hopes the city will reconsider and allow his drive-thru service to continue.

“I’m hoping the city will work with me and we can come to some kind of compromise in order to keep my drive-thru open so I can still keep all my employees employed,” he said.

ABC12 did reach out to the City of Mount Pleasant for comment. The city’s director of community services and economic development, Bill Mrdeza, released this information:

“The City has met with Mr. Baltierrez about the steps required to establish a drive-thru on a number of occasions over the past several years. A zoning ordinance regarding safe drive-thru services has been in existence for many decades and requires a Special Use Permit. The City will continue to work with Mr. Baltierrez and present the options available to him and his business.”

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