Chipotle can open downtown Annapolis restaurant
Jan 17, 2013 (The Capital - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Annapolis' downtown burrito beef has come to an end.
The city's Board of Appeals put a wrap on the issue last night when it unanimously approved a request for a Chipotle Mexican Grill to open on Market Space.
Moe's Southwest Grill, which has served burritos on City Dock for eight years, fought Chipotle's attempt to move into a neighboring building, which now houses a coffee shop and bookstore.
The board's approval was necessary for Chipotle to use the building without selling books and adding more seats to the dining area.
Alan Hyatt, an attorney representing Chipotle, said the ruling was good news.
"I really didn't think it would have been a newsworthy or controversial case but for the fact there was a potential competitor who didn't want to see this competition come to town," Hyatt said.
Though Chipotle and Moe's are similar businesses, Moe's hired an attorney to argue that Chipotle was a fast-food eatery, not a standard restaurant. Annapolis doesn't allow fast food in the Historic District without a special exception.
One way the city has distinguished fast food from regular restaurants is the use of disposable utensils instead of washable silverware. Because Chipotle burritos are usually eaten with hands or compostable utensils, the Moe's argued that Chipotle serves fast food.
Chipotle representatives said they were willing to install a dishwasher and tweak their operations to abide by Annapolis' rules.
Christian Elkington Jr., a member of the appeals board, said he supported Chipotle because the business has offered a plan to
satisfy all of the requirements.
"They were willing to comply with using plates, as we know plates, and using silverware as we know it to be," he said.
James Gregory, another board member, said it was crucial for the panel to be consistent in its rulings.
"I don't see how we can deny this request when the board approved Moe's request," Gregory said.
Chipotle and Moe's have competed over turf in downtown Annapolis before.
Chipotle wanted to open on Dock Street in 2005 but walked away from the project because of the silverware stipulation. Moe's was willing to accommodate the requirement and snatched the lease Chipotle had been pursuing.
Chipotle instead opened a location at Westfield Annapolis mall, outside the city.
Chipotle plans to locate in the storefront currently occupied by Hard Bean Cafe. Company representatives estimate they'll spend $900,000 on the kitchen and other renovations to the building.
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