WU AND MCCAMBRIDGE: Yale talks Chipotle

Point

A year has passed since our first letter to Chipotle. Several letters and a few News articles later, we have succeeded. Today, we literally get to taste the fruits of our labor. Opening day is a time for celebration, but it is also the conclusion of our journey. Hollywood teaches us that the endings of great journeys are typically accompanied by moments of reflection. In that spirit, I find myself asking, “What’s changed and what’s about to change?”

In the time following our first article, my gustatory knowledge of New Haven has increased quite a bit. Despite the seemingly scathing nature of the responses to our op-ed, the comments turned out to be very constructive. What was so special about the New Haven dining experience that had everyone in an uproar? I was prompted to go see, and taste, for myself.

I’m near the halfway mark of my Yale career, and I spent the summer in New Haven, so I’ve come to develop a deeper understanding of our city and its restaurants. When it’s time to go home for breaks, I often find myself missing the Spanish food at Ibiza, the casual atmosphere at Zinc and the wonderfully smelly cheeses from Caseus. I’ve even developed a liking for Moe’s!

The restaurants in New Haven are charming, and the dining experience is unique; that’s something that I’ve come to appreciate. But every now and then, I need a serving of unhealthy fast food. The new Chipotle on Chapel will never replace the fine restaurants of New Haven: It will only help to diversify the already vibrant food scene by satisfying the college student’s late-night burrito cravings.

Michael Wu is a sophomore in Branford College. Contact him at michael.wu@yale.edu .

Counter-point

Last February, my roommate Michael and I penned a letter to Chipotle imploring the company to come to New Haven. Today, Jan. 29, 342 days after the publication of our letter in the News, Chipotle will open its doors in New Haven.

You’re welcome.

But I’m not as excited for this grand opening as I thought I might be. Part of the reason is, as the 78 online comments from our original column so politely pointed out, New Haven already has many good food options. The burrito cart on the corner of Elm and York is a great alternative to dining hall lunch, and the upscale restaurants along Chapel Street are always spectacular, especially if someone else is paying.

But I think the main reason I’m not purely ecstatic has to do with my relationship with Chipotle. I grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which, as you might have guessed, does not have a Chipotle. The closest location was 40 minutes away. This meant Chipotle was a special treat, something to be delightfully anticipated on trips to visit my grandparents or happily encountered while exploring a new city.

Because of this, each occasion I have a Chipotle burrito is still special. For example, there is a Chipotle on 42nd Street in New York City across from the New York Public Library and Bryant Park. That hole-in-the-wall Chipotle is directly on my walk between Port Authority and Grand Central as I commute between Eastern Pennsylvania and Yale for breaks. For the first half of my trip, I carefully consider my order. Once at the restaurant, I waddle with all my bags to the front of the line. I sit, devour and leave, my anticipation always having been satisfied. By then, I’m already looking forward to my next chance to return.

I’m sure the New Haven Chipotle will produce burritos that are virtually identical to every Chipotle burrito I have ever had. But I worry those burritos won’t be quite as delicious if I can have one any time I want.

That said, if you want to find me at 11 a.m. today, I’ll be in line.

Gordon McCambridge is a sophomore in Branford College. Contact him at gordon.mccambridge@yale.edu .

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