Middletown residents and visitors might eventually be able to add White Castle to the menu of hamburger havens that some say clog up the township's asphalt arteries, especially Route 35.
However, unlike some of its long-established competitors, the Columbus, Ohio-based chain wants to construct an eat-in, take-out and drive-thru spot on Route 36 in the Port Monmouth section of the township — an area now starved of fast-food eateries.
Known for its signature Original Slider, White Castle still needs to complete its preliminary and final site plan application before it can expect to treated royally or even heard by the Middletown Township Planning Board, according to Township Planner Jason Greenspan.
"Some of the technical details are not as complete as they should be," Greenspan said of the plans filed in August. "We must make sure that they have at least the basics."
Specifically, township engineers are seeking more details about the company's stormwater management plan for the site on one-and-a-half acres fronting Route 36 and just east of Port Monmouth's Main Street, Greenspan said.
"Once it's complete, it can be scheduled for a [planning board] hearing," Greenspan said.
White Castle's plans on file with the township call for a 1,952-square-foot building with interior seating for about 36 patrons to be constructed on five existing lots in the B-3 business zone. The company has also applied for also a minor subdivision of one of the lots that it wants to use.
Parking for 23 vehicles to the building's west and rear and a single drive-through lane able to stack up to nine vehicles are also shown on the plans.
The drive-thru plans call for a menu board covered by a canopy and one pick-up window. An area for deliveries would also be placed in the back of the building.
A covered shed holding dumpsters and recycling bins would be located behind the building and in the rear of the parking lot, the plans show. One 10-foot-high identifying sign would be situated along the highway.
As proposed, customers would enter the site using one single point of entry and exit from Route 36. Plans call for that entrance and exit, divided by a triangular island, to be placed just a few feet south of the building itself.
The parking lot's west side would face the winding, eastbound turn-off lane leading vehicles from Main Street northbound to Route 36. The plans do not indicate access from Main Street or from the turnoff lane.
The Port Monmouth Elementary School is located several yards away to the west of the proposed site at the corner of the highway and Main Street. A two-story dwelling and an existing Rite Aid are now east of the proposed site.
An existing White Castle in Eatontown sells its small, square-shaped beef, chicken or fish sliders on Route 35 northbound in a heavily-traveled spot across from Monmouth Mall. Like the one proposed for Port Monmouth, that location features indoor seating, take-out, and drive-thru service.
If constructed, White Castle's main competitor along the stretch of Route 36 that runs through the township would be a McDonald's in the Leonardo section.
At that end of the highway, a Burger King, physically situated in Atlantic Highlands, vies for motorists' hamburger cravings with McDonalds. Further north on Route 36, a McDonald's and Burger King operate in Union Beach and Hazlet respectively.
Meanwhile, back on Route 35, a Sonic has been approved by the township's zoning board of adjustment for Route 35 and Harmony Road. Upon opening, Sonic will join McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Five Guys Burgers and Fries in that township highway's menu of fast-food offerings.