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New burrito drive-thru opens in Citrus Heights after years-long delay

Restaurant owner Jaime Tobanche stands outside California Burrito, at 7858 Lichen Drive. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
The long-awaited opening of California Burrito on Lichen Drive near Interstate 80 arrived this week.

California Burrito opened Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 7858 Lichen Drive and was already seeing a steady stream of customers during a visit by Sentinel staff. Restaurant owner Jaime Tobanche said the delay was due to a combination of factors including new requirements to bring the building up to code and a delay in the architectural plans.

Opening day was not without its hiccups, Tobanche said. There were problems with the wireless internet network as well as the payment devices, he said. Staff gave away food at no charge for about an hour until the system was back up and running.

Tobanche said the location near Raley’s needed additional plans to bring the building up to current code requirements, since a restaurant has not operated at the location in more than a year. The building was a Goodwill location for years, after the closure of a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The delay was costly for Tobanche, who said he was able to open his previous locations in a shorter time frame. This, the company’s 15th location, is the first in Citrus Heights, he said.

California Burrito began renovation of the property last year after a failed attempt to bring a Burger King to the location in 2021, according to a previous report by The Sentinel. The Burger King franchise was blocked after discovery of a 1987 non-compete clause in favor of the adjacent McDonald’s restaurant, the prospective franchise owner said.

California Burrito lists locations throughout Sacramento, Fairfield, Vacaville, Lodi, Antioch, and Pittsburgh, according to their website. Each location has between 12 and 14 employees, Tobanche said.

While the building was vacant, Tobanche said it was vandalized and about 20 homeless people were living inside. Now that the location is open, he hopes the restaurant will operate in Citrus Heights long-term.

“I want to have a good relationship with the people here and the city, give good customer service, good food,” he said. “And I hope they like it and we stay here for a long, long time.”

According to an online menu, California Burrito locations serve a variety of Mexican foods, including breakfast burritos, combo plates, seafood, tostadas and tacos.

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