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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho Voices

Sandpoint officials considering ban on drive-throughs

Patty Hutchens

Imagine being up all night with a sick toddler.

Exhausted, you call the doctor. Relief is in sight; he can see you in a couple of hours. During the appointment, your child refuses to let the doctor look in his throat or his ears. He squirms and cries. He just won’t sit still.

Desperate, you finally do what all parents resort to at one time or another – you bribe your child. You tell him that if he sits still for just one minute he can have his favorite lunch from the local fast-food restaurant.

Relieved, you leave the office holding the piece of paper that you hope will provide your child with some relief and you with some rest – a prescription.

Next stop is the pharmacy. But you realize you are out of cash and used your last check to pay your co-pay at the doctor. So, now, before going to fill the prescription, you must go to the bank. And after being up all night, a double-tall latte is just what you need to get you through until the antibiotic kicks in.

If you live in Sandpoint, all those errands – which could have been conducted at the drive-through windows of banks, pharmacies, coffee stands and restaurants – may instead require you to take your sick child out of his car seat at each and every stop.

The Sandpoint City Council introduced an ordinance last month that would ban all new drive-through businesses and prohibit the rebuilding of any existing drive-through services in the event of remodel or destruction. The town is buzzing about drive-through businesses – to ban or not to ban?

Many residents worry the proposed ban will force new and existing businesses to move to nearby communities such as Ponderay or Kootenai. Others see the proposal as necessary to stop the intrusion of businesses on residential areas and to relieve traffic congestion.

It’s no secret that Sandpoint has seen a drastic increase in population over the past decade. Because of the increases in areas such as housing prices and traffic, a committee has spent the past two years working on an updated comprehensive plan. The plan, first introduced in 1977, serves as a guide for city government when formulating policies about housing, natural resources, zoning and transportation. The goal is to have a detailed plan that will help the city absorb growth as best as possible.

The ban on drive-through services is part of the comprehensive plan and will go before the council this month. But those on the planning and zoning commission say that instead of an all out ban, they will recommend that businesses that want to offer drive-through services apply for conditional- use permits.

The proposal will go in front of the council at 5:30 p.m. May 20 at Sandpoint City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

Sandpoint’s musical restaurants

If you haven’t been to downtown Sandpoint for a while, you could have trouble finding that wonderful restaurant you once dined at. The last month has brought a game of musical restaurants to the area.

If you want to go to what was once Café Trinity, you’ll have to travel down the road to the Edgewater Hotel, where you will find Trinity at City Beach. The menu offers fresh seafood, steaks and prime rib as well as many of the favorites from the menu at the former Café Trinity.

But what about the Beach House Restaurant that occupied the Edgewater for the past several years? To dine there, you’ll have to go to Fourth Avenue and Cedar Street to what was formerly Connie’s Restaurant.

And the Oishii Sushi Restaurant has moved across the street from its old location inside Café Trinity to the now-closed Pastime Bar and Grill on First Avenue. You should not have trouble finding it: It is painted in fresh coats of two shades of lime green (another hot topic of conversation, in addition to drive-throughs).

The reason for all the moves? Mel Dick, who owned Café Trinity with his wife, Claudia, but has transferred ownership of Trinity at City Beach to their son, said Café Trinity was outgrowing its location near Starbucks. Now, he said, it will be able to seat more people, indoors and out, and offer a full bar.

Another factor was that Oishii Sushi and Café Trinity were operating out of the same kitchen, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to time the sushi dishes along with the other menu items, Dick said.

And issues that go along with the construction of the bypass – trucks, noise and excavation equipment – cannot be overlooked. The scenic view at Café Trinity’s former location would have been obstructed by bypass work. The new site at has outdoor seating right on the water.

While locations of these great restaurants may have changed, each continues to offer the same great food it always has.

Come to Sandpoint and check them out.

And you may want to enjoy the convenience of that drive-through espresso while you still can.

Contact correspondent Patty Hutchens by e-mail at
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