Happy Cinco de Mayo! Hope you had fun! If you like Mexican food, or at least, a super-sized US-style take on Mexican food, you may like Chipotle Mexican Grill. With their jumbo-sized portions and highly-customizable build-your-own burrito assembly-line, the Chipotle brand has swept the US and beyond. Chipotle now serves 800,000 customers per day. Some people like the fresh ingredients, some like the firm’s commitment to sustainable practices, and others go looking for the secret menu. The brand has been so successful that if you had bought $100 worth of Chipotle shares 4 years ago, they would now be worth $600.
So with almost 2,000 restaurants around, where is the Chipotle in Princeton? Well, there is none. Unless you count the one which recently opened out on Route 1, in ‘The Square At West Windsor’ shopping center:
Why did Chipotle open out on Route 1 instead of in downtown Princeton? We’re confident that it would have been a massive hit here, with our walkable downtown area, large population of hungry students, and a significant local workforce. New Brunswick has a Chipotle now too, meaning that Rutgers students are getting the benefit of their tasty and reasonably-priced burritos, but Choir College, Seminary and Princeton students miss out. More worryingly, it continues a trend where downtown Princeton is by-passed in favor of a commercial location out on Rt 1. This should concern everyone in Princeton. Our downtown area should be the first place that a popular, rapidly-expanding chain should be looking to deliver their goods to the local area. The fact that Chipotle went for a Rt 1 mall instead of downtown Princeton is bad news for our town. An Apple Store is also rumored for the area. But is it going in downtown Princeton? Apparently not. Instead, it too, will land in a West Windsor Mall.
Princeton should do everything it can to make sure that it is an irresistible destination for retail. When Chipotle and Apple, both of which are likely to be incredibly popular with Princeton residents, are both skipping downtown Princeton, it’s clear that our downtown lacks the ability to compete for quality retail. We should not be willing to accept that in future, all our shopping needs will have to be fulfilled by driving down to the traffic inferno that is Rt 1.
We reached out to Chipotle to ask them why they chose Rt 1 for their Princeton area location. On their website, they have a list of things that they look for in a new location, and downtown Princeton could certainly provide them all. Here is the reply that we got:
Thanks for writing to us. As you noticed on our site, there are a lot of things that go onto our location decisions. The ability to find a suitable space one factor that isn’t really listed, but plays a key role. I’m not entirely sure what led to this final decision, but I’ll be sure to pass along your request to possibly consider a location in the downtown area. Keep your fingers crossed!
Well, we admit that we didn’t learn a whole lot there. In the meantime, if you want a fantastic burrito in walking distance of downtown Princeton, may we recommend Taste of Mexico, Qdoba, or [our favorite] Tortuga’s Mexican Village.