After years of anticipation, Yalies will soon have a local venue where they can enjoy the famous braised barbacoa and adobo chicken burritos they have been calling for — Chipotle Mexican Grill is finally on its way to setting up shop in New Haven.
A Tweet sent Wednesday night from the official Chipotle Twitter account said the restaurant should open in late January. News that the Denver-based food chain would make its way to the Elm City broke when passersby at 900 Chapel St., the former location of Caffe Bottega, noticed a work permit notification taped on the window. The bottom of the document reads “Renovate vacant restaurant for new Chipotle Mexican Grille [sic].” The signature of Andrew Rizzo Jr., the city building official whose office handles construction permit applications, is stamped at the bottom of the permit.
In January 2011, Chipotle founder and CEO Steven Ells said in an email obtained by the News that he was looking for sites in New Haven for a potential opening in 2012, though the company did not make any statements on the matter until Wednesday night. Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Chipotle’s arrival will be one of a series of high-profile brands to enter the Elm City over the last year, following last September’s opening of an Apple store on Broadway and this month’s arrival of Shake Shack on Chapel Street.
Abigail Rider, director of University Properties, which manages Yale’s business and residential real estate holdings, said these new arrivals demonstrate the city’s desirability as a market for new stores. She cited New Haven’s population growth, strong education and biomedical sector, and “cosmopolitan feel” as factors that attract new businesses.
UP manages a portfolio of over 100 retail tenants and 500 residential holdings in New Haven, but the new Chipotle location is not among them. PMC Properties, a real estate management company based out of Philadelphia, is the storefront’s owner. Rider said the site is a good location for Chipotle, which has been expanding at a rate of approximately 150 restaurants annually for the past several years.
“My guess is that they are expanding into trade areas which have attractive demographics but require a lower-cost model than Chipotle’s traditional restaurant openings,” Rider said. “900 Chapel … is a good location for them, between the Gateway and Yale campuses, and it’s good for that section of Chapel Street to have high-traffic use.”
Student reaction to the news was highly positive — 14 students interviewed all said they were excited for New Haven to have a Chipotle downtown.
“I’m thrilled about [Chipotle] coming close to campus,” said Caroline Bank ’13. “I wrote to them myself last year to try and get them to open a New Haven restaurant.”
Matthew Townsend ’15 said he was excited that Chipotle could serve as an alternative to dining halls some nights.
“Chipotle will be great for when Yale Dining serves General Tso’s tofu and no grilled chicken,” Townsend said. “It’ll be awesome to have one nearby — it’s such a pain to get to the one [in Milford.]”
Chipotle was founded in 1993 and has 1,316 locations across the United States.