Fast Casual Restaurants Are Changing Zoning Regulations in Northern VA

At the end of January, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors took the first steps in modernizing the county’s zoning laws with an update to its zoning rules for restaurants. 

When the rules were created 36 years ago, restaurants were more easily defined by certain characteristic differences between traditional sit-down and fast food establishments. For example, a restaurant’s classification depended on if the food is brought to the table, or if individual menus are given out and whether disposable cutlery is used.

We previously outlined the changes that are taking place when it comes to retail and this includes food venues. It’s only been more recently that the fast casual restaurant, such as Panera Bread or Cava, has existed and this style has been gaining in popularity. Because these types of restaurants blur the lines between traditional sit-down and fast food restaurants, the outdated restaurant zoning rules were creating certain challenges for the growing restaurant type.

The new update has done a number of things:

  • Removed the term ‘Fast Food Restaurant’ and ‘Eating Establishment’
  • Added three new definitions for the terms ‘Restaurant’, ‘Carryout Restaurant’, and ‘Restaurant with Drive-through’
  • Revised the term ‘Quick-service Food Store’
  • Parking is now calculated based on square footage of the gross floor area, allowing restaurants to have limited outdoor seating without needing additional parking

Additionally, updates have been made to reflect the changes we’re seeing in shopping centers and office spaces, such as eliminating certain restrictions on where and how many of a certain type of restaurant can locate within a shopping center or office district.

These zoning updates not only address the new changes in the food industry but should also prove to be more adaptable with future changes that may take place. This change is only one of many in the northern Virginia county’s project to modernize its zoning ordinance and will facilitate economic development, growth, and an environment welcoming of change and modernization.

If you have questions on new zoning changes in the Metro D.C. Area, contact our experts at Milrose today.

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BY Sara Cottle / Massachusetts, Washington DC, Retail, Local Laws, 2018 Trends