An award-winning barbecue food stand is transitioning into a new home after the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the floor plan of Pata's BBQ & Wings at Monday's meeting.
Wildmike Pata, co-owner of Pata's BBQ & Wings, unveiled the layout of the restaurant during the meeting at City Hall. The barbecue restaurant will be located at 808 S. Sanborn Blvd., the former address of Doug’s Auto Sales.
“We signed a lease with the property owner that extends into October, and we want to try it out and see how things go until then,” Pata said. “We plan to address the areas the health inspector outlined for us to be in compliance with the standards, and we will cook everything outside the building as well.”
The plan's layout features an order and pickup window facing South Sanborn Boulevard, a handful of outdoor tables on the parking lot adjacent to West Fir Avenue, along with employee parking space. The smoker used for cooking the barbecue cuisine will be located at least 10 feet outside of the building to comply with fire codes, Pata said.
According to Pata, West Fir Avenue will serve as the customer entrance into the restaurant, while the alleyway that splits the parking lots of Pata’s BBQ and Mitchell Realty will be the exit way onto Havens Avenue. As for interior and exterior building changes, Pata said he is in the midst of repainting the garage door and refurbishing the floor.
The parking lot plan raised concerns for Assistant Police Chief Mike Koster, which centered around the traffic flow and potential safety issues that could arise at the busy intersection.
“Specifically, the close proximity of the rounded corner coming off of Havens Avenue onto Sanborn Boulevard has been an area where we’ve seen accidents in the past,” Koster said. “When the auto dealership was at that location there were traffic flow issues because it’s difficult to see traffic trying get on Sanborn Boulevard from Fir Avenue.”
Koster noted the tourist season will also increase the volume of traffic flow in that area due to the wide use of travelers utilizing the busy Sanborn Boulevard and Havens Avenue intersection to visit the Corn Palace.
“It would be difficult to regulate the traffic heading westbound on Fir Avenue, and that’s my biggest concern,” Koster said. “Because of the short distance and the speed of the roadway, traffic that would come out of the alleyway to the north and turn west onto Havens could be dangerous with the large volume of traffic that area sees.”
Commission member Kevin Genzlinger cited the rounded corner intersection of Havens Avenue and Sanborn Boulevard as being an area of potential danger given the restaurant’s entrance is directly off Sanborn Boulevard. The existing lane that directs traffic westbound onto South Sanborn Boulevard is a thru street and doesn’t include a yield sign, but Genzlinger said it’s common for drivers to mistakenly think otherwise.
“Most drivers aren’t aware they get their own lane, and they slow down because they think they’re yielding anyway,” Genzlinger said of the intersection. “I don’t know if we can address these traffic concerns without making major changes.”
In response to the traffic concerns, Pata said he will explore options to help eliminate blind spots for customers exiting his restaurant.
In addition to the restaurant’s proximity with Mitchell’s biggest tourist attraction, Commission Chairman Doug Molumby -- who was filling in for acting chairman Jay Larson -- reiterated the importance of maintaining an aesthetically pleasing building.
“I view this area as another gateway to the Corn Palace, and my request is that you maintain the building and area to have aesthetic quality,” Molumby said to Pata. “This is another area tourists will see before they make their way to the Corn Palace, and it’s important to be aware of that.”
After collectively addressing the issues, the Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan contingent upon reviewing the restaurant’s first several months in business. Thus, the Planning Commission will meet with Pata in September at the board meeting before his lease is up to discuss if any traffic concerns need to be arranged.
“If business goes well, we plan on going strong in the immediate future,” Pata said after the approval. “We’re excited for this opportunity.”