Wayback Burger plans still sizzling

The owner of the site at the northwest corner of Beechtree Street and Waverly Avenue in Grand Haven said progress has slowed due to environmental and financing issues, but he still plans to open a Wayback Burgers franchise on the site, potentially by the end of 2020.

The plans for opening a Wayback Burgers location at 541 S. Beechtree St. in Grand Haven have been put on the back burner, but they are still simmering.

Bhupinder Dhillon, who owns the party store across the street, purchased the property in 2016 with plans to open a Wayback Burgers restaurant, a chain that is popular on the East Coast. However, after razing the former Oasis Party Store building early last year, he discovered a huge roadblock.

When construction crews removed concrete, they discovered underground fuel tanks, which presented environmental concerns and required removal, according to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality standards.

Dhillon said this week that he has spent about $800,000 in cleanup costs. He removed the two gas tanks about three months ago.

“We did some work with the environment with what needed to be done,” Dhillon said. “We are working with the bank to get a mortgage right now, but the project has become much bigger than we thought. The cost is much more than we thought it was going to be.”

Dhillon said he still plans to open the restaurant, but the environmental costs have certainly slowed the project.

“We don’t have the bank approval to provide us a mortgage yet,” he said. “Eventually, we will. We are working on it.”

Dhillon said interest rates have fluctuated since he first formulated his restaurant plans.

“Two years ago, we could get a loan for 4 percent and could afford to do a business,” he said. “Now, it has gone up to 8 percent. It’s impossible. It’s an $8,000 to $9,000 a month payment. We are trying to find someone who might want to be in a partnership or do some financing. I am not going to go by myself. Basically, I’m not able to get a loan.”

Dhillon said he’s not giving up on his dream, though.

“I am 100 percent (certain) that we will open at some point,” he said. “... Honestly, the money we were going to use to open the restaurant has already been spent and we got nowhere. ... I would say by the end of this year we will have something ready to go.”

The plans for the restaurant call for table dining, beer, wine and liquor, and a night take-out window, according to Dhillon.

There are currently four Wayback Burgers in Michigan and locations in 28 states, Washington, D.C., and several other countries.

“We want to get this location in the works,” Dhillon said. “We need a good restaurant around here.”

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