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New Santa Rosa burger joint ties up traffic

  • Tou Thor stands on the median strip of County Center Drive to tell drivers where to get into the drive up line for In-N-Out.

The lure of sizzling meat covered in melted cheese proved too much Monday for Carlos Diaz and his two sons.

The Santa Rosa landscaper pulled into a drive-through line that snaked onto the street outside the new In-N-Out Burger near Steele Lane, the back end of his pickup jutting out onto County Center Drive.

With more than two-dozen cars ahead of him, Diaz said there's no substitute for the burger, fries and frosty shake.

In-N-Out Burger Opens In Santa Rosa

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"It's way worth it," said one of his children, 11-year-old Carlos Diaz Jr., as the truck crept slowly forward.

But not everyone is so enthused about Sonoma County's third In-N-Out, opened just 12 days ago.

Hordes of customers are snarling traffic near one of the city's busiest intersections with Highway 101. Congestion along County Center is made worse by the drive-through line that sometimes reaches out to the street. And those who work in the area are experiencing negative impacts.

There's a sense of chaos, especially at lunch and dinner. Employees are not just taking orders, they're outside directing traffic and helping people at the nearby crosswalk. There's been one minor crash, a number of near-misses and lots of horn-honking, according to police and those who work in the area.

For some, what was billed as a cheeseburger in paradise has become a whopper of a headache.

"People drive by and yell that someone's going to get in an accident because of all the people who want to get fat," said employee Derrick Burt, who was directing cars in his white uniform Monday during the lunch hour. "Some people are cussing us out, some people are praising us."

At the veterinary clinic across the street, there's not much praise.


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