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New activity appears outside vacant Citrus Heights restaurant building

Signs for a seafood buffet have appeared outside the former China Buffet location in Citrus Heights. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
A long-vacant restaurant building formerly home to China Buffet on Sunrise Boulevard has new signage announcing a seafood buffet is coming soon, but details remain scant.

One banner announcing the new buffet hangs at the building and another is placed along Sunrise Boulevard visible to traffic, near El Tapatio Family Mexican Restaurant.

No activity could be seen at the location during a visit by Sentinel staff on Monday, and an on-duty manager at El Tapatio told The Sentinel she was not aware of any communication from anyone related to the business, or any future plans.

Sunrise MarketPlace Executive Director Kathilynn Carpenter told The Sentinel a new restaurant is planning to open at the location, but could not give any specific information.

The Sentinel previously reported the site was the focal point of a controversial move to potentially open a gas station and car wash in the area. El Tapatio manager Hector Alcazar told The Sentinel at the time he would oppose automotive related uses of the site, preferring to see more dining options in the Sunrise Marketplace district.

The issue came before the City Council during an October meeting last year. Several council members expressed reservations about telling private property owners what they could and couldn’t do with their property, but ultimately sided with the city’s vision and feedback from residents.

The council voted 5-0 in favor of making the Sunrise MarketPlace business improvement district a destination-spot for diners and shoppers. The approved overlay ban restricts five specific uses within the Sunrise MarketPlace, mostly dealing with auto-intensive uses, but including a prohibition on any new personal storage facilities.

The building has been vacant since the former China Buffet closed its doors in 2018.

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