BY JASON CAMPBELL

Lathrop residents on the west side of I-5 won’t have to wait long before they’ll be able to satisfy their cravings for burgers and coffee.

Construction for the standalone Starbucks and an In-N-Out Burger has been progressing throughout the start of the summer and the buildings are starting to take shape – the latest chain businesses to open near where the majority of Lathrop’s residential growth is taking place.

Located on the northern edge of the development where Target is located – the Lathrop Market Place – along River Islands Parkway, the businesses will be able to cater both to the homes that have been and continue to be constructed on the river side of the freeway as well as traffic along the I-5 corridor. While the majority of Lathrop’s commercial development has been occurring near the I-5 and Lathrop Road interchange – with additional interest in available property to capitalize on the growing market – the addition of the drive-thru businesses near Louise Avenue satisfies the long-awaited arrival of something other than the big-box retailer that opened to carry the development.

And the In-N-Out Burger may end up having the freshest burgers of any In-N-Out location in Northern California or Southern Oregon.

The company, which is famous for never freezing their hamburgers before they are served, chose Lathrop as the site for its distribution center on the opposite side of the freeway because of the ease of access to California’s two main arterial freeway sections as well as the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area. Within a half-day’s drive trucks leaving the distribution center have access to markets where almost 16 million people call home including the Bay Area, Sacramento, Redding, Stockton and Modesto, and Fresno and Bakersfield. The restaurants extend as far north as Medford, and are also operational in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona.

And they aren’t the only new eateries that are coming to the city.

Panda Express has already cleared the development hurdles to begin construction at the corners of Lathrop and South Harlan Roads, adding to an area that already includes a Starbucks and a number of eateries that cater to nearby residents and freeway traffic passing through the community.

The City of Lathrop has actively been reaching out to developers through personal contact as well as meetings at large retail conventions to try and promote the city’s booming economic opportunities.

A Tru By Hilton – the first hotel of its kind built in California – has also been approved for construction, as has a Fairfield Inn and Suites.