Chipotle Mexican Grill has been officially cleared to make its debut in the city of New Orleans, following the unanimous approval of the City Council to open a location on Magazine Street in the Garden District.
Chipotle’s upcoming location — one more more than 2,000 nationwide — will be in the former Radioshack space in the small strip mall at 2801 Magazine, the same building with a Starbucks at the corner of Washington Avenue. Chipotle’s path though City Hall dates back to last summer, when it first asked city officials to consider granting it status as a standard restaurant, rather than fast-food.
City officials initially disagreed with Chipotle, then reconsidered and adopted the standard restaurant designation, despite the opposition of Garden District and Irish Channel neighborhood leaders who viewed it as a sort of backdoor route for fast-food onto Magazine Street. By the time the issue reached City Council on Thursday (Jan. 25), its request being treated as a fast-food restaurant again, and it had apparently bolstered its support.
Stephen Kroll, a member of city planning department, said Chipotle’s request was the rare instance of a fast-food restaurant that was unlikely to intensify the commercial impact on the neighborhood.
“Unlike other fast food restaurants which have drive-throughs and huge parking areas and which don’t really fit into their context, this is really a build-out of an existing space and will have the same physical characteristics,” Kroll said. “It’s going to be drawing customers that are already along Magazine Street shopping. It’s probably going to be a minimal number of people driving there solely to go to the Chipotle.”
City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell offered the motion to approve the Chipotle request, though she tweaked a few of the conditions alongside it. Chipotle will not be allowed to open until 10:30 a.m., instead of the 6 a.m. previously allowed at the space. It must file a litter plan, restrict delivery trucks to the overnight or early-morning hours between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., and maintain a working security-camera system outside both the front and back doors.
Chipotle has worked out a good-neighbor agreement with the neighborhoods that have won them over, said Shelley Landrieu of the Garden District Association, so they are withdrawing their previous opposition.
“Even though we are not in favor of fast food on Magazine, we have worked pretty diligently over the past few months to come up with a good compromise position,” Landrieu told the council. “So, we are not in opposition.”
Cantrell praised the developers and the neighborhood for working together as the council voted unanimously in support of it.
“I’m excited for the Chipotle on Magazine, and I’m happy to hear the community is embracing this too,” Cantrell said. “It’s been some time coming.”
To see video of the discussion during Thursday’s meeting, see below: