Before seeing the drive-thru menu, you need a preview

Drivers line up in the drive-thru lane of the Duchess restaurant on Main Street during a busy lunch hour Friday.

MONROE, Conn. — A preview menu gives customers at drive-thrus an idea of what they want to order before seeing the menu board, keeping the line moving at fast food restaurants.

The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a text amendment allowing preview boards at its meeting Thursday night.

“I see these signs as a service to the public more than the restaurants,” Domenic Paniccia, an alternate, said before the vote.

The application for a Panera Bread restaurant at Town Line Plaza on Monroe Turnpike drew attention to the fact that Monroe’s zoning regulations had no mention of preview boards.

Designers of the restaurant insisted on the preview sign for its drive-thru, so the commission approved the application in January and had its Regulations Subcommittee work on an amendment to the regulations to allow the signs.

According to the text amendment that was approved Thursday, a preview menu board sign is defined as “A freestanding or wall sign with the design, materials and finish to match a corresponding restaurant menu board sign, the sole purpose of which is to assist patrons within a restaurant drive-through lane with the restaurant menu options available for purchase prior to arriving at the corresponding menu board sign.”

A permit is required for a menu board sign, which can have a maximum area of 32-square-feet and height of seven feet, town regulations say.

“The sign may be freestanding or affixed to a building,” the regulation states. “One Menu Board Sign is permitted per drive-thru lane on a lot.”

According to the text amendment, a permit is also required for a preview menu board sign, which can have a maximum area of 16-square-feet and a maximum height of seven feet.

The sign “may be freestanding or affixed to a building,” the regulation now says. “One Pre-View Menu Board Sign is permitted per associated Menu Board Sign.”

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