There’s a new kid coming to town in University Plaza — Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Plans for the new restaurant were presented at last week’s Vestal Town Board planning meeting.
Plans include a 2,230-square-foot restaurant west of the Visions Federal Credit Union at the front of the plaza, according to Patty Fitzgerald, a Vestal councilwoman on the Planning and Zoning Committee.
Chipotle’s Communications Director Chris Arnold said it is undetermined when Chipotle will break ground or be completed. But, according to Fitzgerald, construction is slated to begin sometime between March and August 2012.
The restaurant, which will operate from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, will have a seating capacity of 72, according to Fitzgerald. There will be 46 seats inside and a covered 26-seat patio outside.
Chipotle considered other locations in Binghamton, but chose University Plaza because of its proximity to students.
“We have a long history of building restaurants that are close to colleges or universities,” he said.
Tami Finan, the regional vice president for Ambling Management, which operates UP, said she thinks a new restaurant is a good addition to the plaza.
“I would think our residents would appreciate additional choices located so close their home at University Plaza Apartments,” Finan said.
The new restaurant will require 22 parking spots that will be determined by the plaza’s developer, Newman Development, according to a report in the Press & Sun-Bulletin.
Finan said that the 450 parking spots allocated to UP residents will not be affected by Chipotle.
“The Ground Lease for the property specifically specifies the number of parking spaces that University Plaza is entitled to so there will be no change to the number of spaces available to our residents,” Finan said.
Out of the nine eateries in UP, there is currently no Mexican option offered. However, just down Vestal Parkway, there is a popular chain that directly competes with Chipotle.
Moe’s Southwest Grill offers an assembly-line style eatery featuring Southwestern food where people can choose their toppings while an employee assembles their creation on the spot. Chipotle’s setup is the same.
Arnold said he isn’t concerned with Moe’s, or any other competitors for that matter, as most of their restaurants are located in competitive environments.
“In the restaurant business, good food ultimately wins,” Arnold said. “And we know we serve great food. If we run our restaurants the way we are capable of, we’ll do fine.”
Craig Gillenwalters, owner of Mario’s pizzeria and BU alumnus, is unconcerned about a new business in the plaza.
“We’ve been here since 1970 and we’re seen a lot of businesses come and go,” Gillenwalters said. “Our main focus is serving the students need and we will continue to do so.”
R.J. Monfort, a senior majoring in chemistry, said he thinks Chipotle will be a great addition to the UP dining experience.
“It gives students more options to choose from besides Mario’s, Subway and Five Guys for cheap food options,” Monfort said. “As for competition with Moe’s, the competition will hopefully cause better deals to come about like Salsa Saturdays or something.”
Naekeshia Smith, an employee for the University Plaza Apartments, is ecstatic about the news of Chipotle joining the UP lineup.
“I am so happy to be getting a Chipotle,” Smith said. “My trips home always include at least two visits to Chipotle, and I’ve literally driven to Syracuse on numerous occasions just to get a burrito.”