Hillsborough Township Planning Board approves drive-thru for Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moe's Southwest Grill on Route 206 in Hillsborough was approved earlier this month by the Hillsborough Township Planning Board for a new 200-foot drive-through operation.

Moe’s Southwest Grill on Route 206 in Hillsborough will be getting a new addition to its facilities to serve residents in the future.

The Hillsborough Township Planning Board unanimously approved the establishment for a drive-thru window addition to its property at this past month’s Planning Board meeting on Oct. 14.

“In the COVID era, a drive-thru window provides a business, such as Moe’s, who struggled like all restaurants with the decrease in indoor dining, an opportunity to offer their customers an option for obtaining takeout,” Mayor Shawn Lipani said in a statement to centraljersey.com. “This is just another way the township is trying to assist our business community.”

The Tex-Mex grill in Hillsborough will become one of only a dozen of the 750 Moe’s Southwest Grill establishments nationwide to have a drive-thru window.

The Hillsborough establishment is owned by Sharanga LLC of Somerset.

At the Planning Board meeting, attorney James Mitchell, who represents Sharanga LLC, said the company approached the township with an application to add a drive-thru based on the belief that it would “best serve the public with growing concerns around indoor dining and help a struggling business.”

Those concerns with indoor dining stem from the coronavirus pandemic.

Mitchell noted during his briefing that when Sharanga LLC first purchased the property, it was subject to “extensive administrative review,” meaning that upgrades for the site would be looked at in the future, as well as the possibility of a drive-thru addition being considered at a future date.

“Times have changed,” Mitchell said. “We feel that a portion of the public’s ongoing concerns about eating inside a restaurant make the installation of a drive-thru a much more urgent proposition.”

Mitchell adds that the drive-thru operation at Moe’s Southwest Grill will be low intensity.

“We understand that some drive-thrus can create unwanted side effects; however, in this case, we think those potential issues are addressed by the bufferage at the rear of our property. The fact that the drive-thru can be accommodated without any additional impervious coverage on the site, without any variances and without any changes to the driveway,” Mitchell said.

Moe’s Southwest Grill is adjacent to the Hillsborough Star Diner and is located on a property that used to be the Briken Dairy Farm.

With building the drive-thru, the Planning Board also approved a 327-foot addition to the south side of the establishment to accommodate the new drive-thru operation.

The 200-foot drive-thru window will be created in the back of the establishment.

After the Planning Board members voted to approve the drive-thru application for Moe’s, Lipani said to Mitchell and his team that he “hopes they have lots of business.”