KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Whataburger footed the bill for the Lee’s Summit Police Department’s overtime associated with managing traffic as the fast-food burger chain’s first Kansas City area restaurant opened.
The Douglas Street entrance to Whataburger was closed and traffic was diverted south in a loop through the surrounding neighborhood.
The plan was scheduled to end Sunday night, but it remains in place as the traffic issues continued into Monday.
“(The) plan is fluid,” Lee’s Summit Police Sgt. Chris Depue, who serves as supervisor for the department’s public information unit, said in an email to KSHB 41 News. “We would like customers to still use the route, but we are trying to remove ourselves from the need to direct traffic. We are continuing to monitor the situation and adjust as needed.”
Depue said he didn’t have a total bill for the overtime from last week, but he said that the cost would be “covered and reimbursed” by Whataburger.
The second Whataburger in the KC area will open Monday, Nov. 29, at 18902 E. U.S. 40 in Independence, Missouri, just east of I-470.
Independence police have yet to finalize a traffic plan for next week, but will have a presence in the area with heavy traffic expected.
“Whataburger is paying for the officers that will be actually in their lot handling traffic,” Independence Police Officer Jack Taylor, a spokesman for the department, said in an email to KSHB 41 News. “For the officers on the roadways, their schedules are being adjusted to fit the assignment.”
Independence police haven’t decided how long the traffic plan will remain in place, saying “it will be more dependent on how traffic goes as to how long we have the plan in place down there.”
City officials surely hope the opening goes as smoothly as the Lee’s Summit opening went.
Other than traffic issues associated with the sheer number of people trying to get a burger, fries and spicy ketchup, Depue said he wasn’t aware of any other issues related to the restaurant’s opening.
He also said Lee’s Summit police hadn’t received complaints from neighboring businesses.
“We have managed to keep the neighboring businesses handled so that they can continue doing their business during the disruption,” Depue said.
Dozens more Whataburgers are planned for the Kansas City area, including two locations in Overland Park, along with locations in Blue Springs and Raymore that are scheduled to open by next summer.
KMO Burger, a franchise group that includes Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, plans to add another 30 Whataburger restaurants in the coming years.