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Confirmed: Chipotle Coming to Rohnert Park

Planning and Building Manager Marilyn Ponton confirmed that Mexican food chain has plans to open up a new restaurant in the North Bay Centre, near the new 24-Hour Fitness.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, the international food chain that brands itself as "fast-casual," has announced official plans to open up shop at the once-dilapidated North Bay Centre on Commerce Boulevard — making it the second new business to locate at the renovated shopping plaza. 

Developers in charge of revamping the plaza, where the new 24-Hour Fitness recently opened, have submitted plans to construct a new building in the parking lot area for Chipotle. 

Planning and Building Manager Marilyn Ponton said the company's application is in, and the city is currently finalizing plans.

City planners say the recent economic activity on one of the city's busiest throughfares is sign of what's to come.

"There's a lot of interest in Rohnert Park right now," said Linda Babonis, the city's economic development manager, who is also overseeing the disolution of the redevelopment agency. "Developers have been inquiring about taking over vacant properties."

The Chipotle craze started in 1993. Since then, the restaurant grew from just a handful of restaurants in Colorado, to more than 1,200 today — in the United States, London and Canada.

An article by Slate.com published earlier this month, reported that the chain opened a staggering 67 new locations in the fourth quarter of 2011. The article also stated that: 

"Chipotle stock is up 50 percent on the year and over 500 percent over five years, far outperforming the market as a whole or the restaurant sector in particular. They announced last week that revenue grew 23.7 percent in 2011, with an 11 percent increase in same-store revenues. Restaurant operating margins are more than 25 percent." Read that full story here.

That 23 percent jump in revenue, from the end of 2010 to the end of 2011, netted $2.27 billion in revenue, according to company data.

"During 2011, we remained focused on our mission to change the way the world thinks about and eats fast food, while continuing to strengthen our people culture and our unit economic model," said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, in a news statement. "Our success is rooted in serving great tasting food ... made from the finest ingredients, which is raised with respect for the animals, the environment, and the farmers is at the heart of that effort,”

The fast food spot has caught on to a national movement — knowing more about where our food comes from; consuming responsibly. According to the company, 40 percent of the black beans they buy are organic, dairy products including cheese and sour cream are rBGH-free, the company boasts trans fat-free frying oils and has a mission statment of "using 100 percent naturally-raised" meats — including beef, chicken and pork.

The company doesn't say they've gone completely free-range, hormone and antibiotic-free, however. They've disclosed publicly that 60 percent of beef used is "naturally-raised" and have only stated a goal of using "natural" chicken and pork. Chipotle deserves some cred though — they started advocating for the humane treatment of animals before it was cool. In 2000, they started serving "naturally-raised" pork; chicken in 2002.

Expect construction to start this sping. Meanwhile, tell us what you think in the comments below! Visit the company online here.

Dave Soldavini February 26, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I have a problem with the fact that they are building something new there when the majority of the buildings are vacant. Also there is a family owned mexican restaurant in the center and one across the street. Not to fair to the little guys!!!!
Angela Hart February 26, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Dave, great comments. Thanks so much.
Sandy Murphey March 02, 2012 at 11:29 PM
This will hurt business for the Mexican place there, and across the street. Maybe the smaller places can move, and get a better rent deal somewhere else, rather than be forced out of business. I hope so!
Fluffoo April 29, 2012 at 04:20 AM
So the old golf pro store wasn't big enough? I will always support the little guy. I miss Johnny's Java.
Michael Stevenson September 29, 2012 at 03:18 PM
It isn't size, it's business. That would be like putting in n out in a commercial condo. It just ain't gonna happen. Their corporate business model is the same as big fast food chains in that every one of their restaurants is a free standing building with a somewhat similar layout. Ever notice how when you walk in to an in n out you can feel like you're at any one of the others? Yeah, that's not an accident. Telling chipotle to move in to a condo like the golf shop would be like telling Nike to change their logo from a Swoosh because it's hurting small-run shoe companies business. This is a different restaurant than the local Mexican places, and isn't authentic Mexican food. Just how Mikes at the Crossroads exists when there are fast good burger choices down the street. Competition can be a good thing, but in the end the citizens of RP and it's visitors will decide what they like to eat. I personally will eat at chipotle, but I'm sure I'll eat at local Mexican restaurants too, because it's a completely different meal in my opinion.

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