The Planning Commission approved multiple plans Thursday that will bring new fast-food restaurants to the Long Beach Towne Center and allow an existing Chick-fil-A to expand its drive-thru operations.

The decision comes after commissioners previously postponed a vote to approve the new El Pollo Loco and Raising Cane’s restaurant planned for a vacant lot near the Walmart. The delay was to strike a deal over Long Beach’s clean energy rules, which require new businesses to use 100% carbon-free energy either through solar panels or Southern California Edison’s “green-rate” program.

A field next to the Walmart at the Long Beach Towne Center on Carson Street where two new fast food restaurants could be built. Friday, July 28, 2023. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Edison’s program allows residential and commercial customers to purchase renewable energy without having to install solar panels on site, something the applicants for the new restaurants said would have added millions in costs to their designs. However, the program has been over capacity for some time and Edison has created a waitlist as it works to contract out new sources of renewable energy to sell.

The Planning Commission approved a city staff recommendation to allow the two restaurants to move forward as long as they can prove they’re enrolled on Edison’s waitlist.

The two operators’ status will be reviewed annually, according to the conditions of approval, and if they haven’t moved off the waitlist by September 2027, they will have to work with the city to begin planning for the installation of solar power.

The El Pollo Loco’s drive-thru will use a dual-lane model that merges into one and has the capacity for 13 vehicles while the Raising Cane’s model will use two lanes all the way to the pickup window, with a kiosk in the middle. It will have a capacity of 19 vehicles, according to plans submitted to the city.

Raising Cane’s also proposed a nearly 3,600-square-foot outdoor dining patio, which was also approved by the commission.

In a separate vote Thursday, the commission approved the Chick-fil-A located on the eastern side of the Towne Center to install a new bypass lane in its existing drive-thru. The changes would allow two lines of vehicles to queue up and order before merging into a single lane. The new configuration would also have a capacity of 19 vehicles, according to plans approved by the commission.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.