With construction scheduled to end Dec. 6, Phillip Dunlap, director of economic development for the City of Auburn, is optimistic about the restaurant’s future and influence on the local economy.
“It’s very positive that they chose to locate within the community,” Dunlap said. “They took an old existing building and renovated it completely and reused it very effectively.”
Mayor Bill Ham also said he is looking forward to the restaurant’s impact.
“In this community, sharing the downtown geographically with the University, the future of downtown Auburn is very bright,” Ham said.
Chipotle’s location on West Magnolia Avenue adds to its convenience and student appeal.
“It creates a sit-down type restaurant close to the business and engineering schools,” Dunlap said.
Chipotle will also provide new competition for establishments nearby, namely its primary competitor, Moe’s Southwest Grill.
“It’s going to happen whether we like it or not,” said Kealon Drake, co-owner of the Moe’s on Magnolia Avenue and other Alabama locations. “We compete with them in Birmingham, and we have been very successful against them … Chipotle is a corporate-owned restaurant. It’s just a different feel than what Moe’s is.”
Drake and co-owner Laura Leigh Drake said Moe’s professionalism and customer loyalty will sustain their business.
“I love our food and couldn’t be more proud of the quality of our food and the integrity,” Laura Leigh said. “When you give more choices and a more colorful environment, you know we’ll both end up fine. We have our loyal Moe’s customers here in Auburn that love Moe’s, and we love them.”
Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle Mexican Grill, said competition is nothing new to the franchise which stresses the quality of its ingredients.
“We compete with other restaurants at all of our locations, but ultimately we believe that good food wins,” Arnold said. “If we run our restaurant the way we are capable of, we should be just fine regardless of the competitive environment.”