Biggby Coffee is trying to move west along Ann Arbor Road in Livonia

Customers looking for that caramel wonder latte in the southwest of Livonia may not have to leave their cars for the coming months.

The owner of Biggby Coffee at 37403 Ann Arbor Road went before the Livonia Planning Commission during its April 13 meeting to propose moving the existing business to a new space on Ann Arbor Road.

Ed Buison, the owner, has requested permission from the city to relocate the business to a former banking facility at 38047 Ann Arbor Road in the mall west of McDonald’s.

According to Buison, the passage will be used for the café, which the current store on the corner of Ann Arbor and Newburgh streets does not have.

“I would like to move the current Biggby coffee that is available on this website here to add a drive through so we have a better chance of surviving the current times,” he said.

If allowed, the cafe would have indoor seating and use the drive-through at the end of the building. Cars lined up behind the building before picking up their orders. Some of the parking spaces at the rear of the building have been removed to facilitate passage.

Several companies have tried to add an enterprise drive-thru over the past year, especially given the current COVID-19 pandemic. Buison himself told Livonia planners last fall the importance of a cafe drive-through when he applied for permission to open a second shop on the southeast corner of Plymouth and Middlebelt streets in front of them.

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Biggby Coffee, based in Lansing, has franchise locations across the country, including several in the region. Biggby Coffee Shops serve specialty coffees and food and operate in communities such as Livonia, Farmington Hills, Westland, Canton Township, Redford Township, South Lyon and Plymouth.

Little was discussed about the proposal among the commissioners. Commission Secretary Sam Caramagno said the back of the building appeared busy the day he stopped to look at the property and wasn’t sure if a drive through would be disruptive.

“I got there by chance one day and saw a lot of activity,” he said. “It looks like there might be a problem there as I saw it.”

Buison said there would be a delivery area that would not be disturbed by the passage.

“My understanding is that the landlord spoke to (others on the square) about us coming in and that they had no objection,” he said. “There is a loading zone there that is marked out so that through traffic is not crossed.”

Questions also arose about the number of vehicles that could wrap around the building, especially at peak times.

Buison said if the passage is too secured, vehicles can be sent to a parking lot and an agent will deliver their items to them in the parking lot.

“Usually we want cars to go every 1½ to 2 minutes,” he said. “If we saw that there was a backup of cars, we would take the cars off the window and tell them to park in the parking lots and we would relay the order to the cars to ease the traffic.”

With the recommended approval from the planning commission, the decision on how to use the waiver now goes to the city council for review and a final decision.

Contact reporter David Veselenak at [email protected] or 734-678-6728. Follow him on Twitter @davidveselenak.

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