After debuting in Berkeley a decade ago, Chipotle plans to open another location in town on Shattuck Avenue next year.
According to Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold, construction for the restaurant will begin in early 2017, and is set to open mid-year at 2225 Shattuck Ave. It will occupy a vacant space where Alko, a 105-year-old office supply store, closed three years ago in Downtown Berkeley.
“I think it’s a positive step for the downtown. (The building) has basically been vacant (except) for Alko office supplies,” said John Caner, CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association.
Although permits for the space were filed Thursday, Chipotle has declined to comment on specific details about this store until it gets closer to its opening date. Arnold said, however, the new store will be similar to the Chipotle on Telegraph Avenue near campus.
In the meantime, nearby businesses have speculated that the restaurant would bring new foot traffic into the area. According to Jordyn Bagon, store manager of Yogurtland, Chipotle could do especially well among Berkeley High School and Berkeley City College students.
“I think a Chipotle would have a lot of success,” Bagon said. “I can see so many high school and college students walking over there. … Everyone loves Chipotle.”
Bagon said during lunch hours on school days, it appears as if the “whole entire high school” is out on the streets, noting that lines at the nearby Starbucks consistently file out the door.
Marianna Newmeth, an employee at Luggage Center, emphasized the building’s location, and noted that for the past few years, she’s only seen it used for temporary projects.
“I think it’s an excellent location for anything, any business,” Newmeth said. “I can imagine it is going to be more popular because it is on Shattuck (Avenue), with much more foot traffic, with more people going to see it.
Seth Newbury, assistant store manager at GameStop and self-proclaimed fan of Fresco Mexican Grill, said he doesn’t believe the new Chipotle would necessarily have anything to offer that Fresco doesn’t offer already. He is, however, still willing to try it out of curiosity.
“I think it’s just for people in the area, and obviously (it) attracts a lot of high school students,” Newbury said. “If they’re willing to fill the spot and give us another option for food around here, I’m all game for that.”
Employee Reza Htsbats at Fresco Mexican Grill said he is confident that Fresco’s customers will continue coming back, emphasizing their prices in comparison to Chipotle. He added that Fresco will not change their menu once Chipotle opens.
“You have to see the long term — how it affects the business,” Htsbats said. “We’ll have to wait and see … but I think they (won’t) affect us too much.”