Five Guys considers expanding to Riverhead — again

A Five Guys restaurant could be the newest business on Route 58.

The applicant had requested a special permit to renovate an existing storefront, formerly a Lane Bryant clothing store, to make way for the burger spot, according to a staff report on the application before the Riverhead Town Board. However, Bill Gellert, a Five Guys franchise owner in Suffolk County, said they’re no longer pursuing the Lane Bryant location and are now focusing on a nearby location. It’s too soon in the process to say precisely where, he said.

“We’re highly interested in the Riverhead market and to be a part of the community,” Mr. Gellert said.

A Five Guys had been proposed in 2013 on Route 58 where The Vitamin Shoppe is currently located. Mr. Gellert said the landlord pulled that deal out from Five Guys when Vitamin Shoppe offered more money and “build out requirements would have cost him less for their use.”

The nearest locations are currently in Port Jefferson Station and Selden. The Five Guys menu features an assortment of hot dogs, burgers, fries and milkshakes.

A Five Guys in Riverhead would be bring more than just food, he added, noting that the recently opened Selden location has been a part of a dozen fundraisers for local community groups.

The Five Guys name emerged during Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session. Supervisor Sean Walter said there’s an opportunity to request a cross access easement to allow traffic to enter at Osborn Avenue into the Riverhead Centre. There is a preliminary site plan approval for the Irwin Garsten retail center between the Riverhead Centre and the town highway department yard.

“Riverhead Centre from my position, has to give us the cross access easement,” he said, as it would allow the town to push for the highway department to merge locations, possibly at EPCAL, with the state highway department.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she hears concerns from downtown business owners that more restaurants on Route 58 will detract visitors from the area.

“I get it that there’s a restaurant that wants to go into the space, I just would rather see people going downtown to eat rather than on Route 58,” she said, noting that while it is her preference, it’s still subject to a public hearing.

The town needs the cross access easement, she said so it will be the Town Board weighing what’s most important. Emptying people from the shopping center onto Osborn Avenue rather than Route 58 would be an improvement, she said.

Correction: This post has been updated with information from the Five Guys franchise owner who noted that the former Lane Bryant location is no longer the location expected for a Riverhead franchise.

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