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Approval for Chipotle Grill in El Cerrito

The El Cerrito Planning Commission Wednesday night gave a green light to a Chipotle restaurant on San Pablo Avenue across from El Cerrito Plaza. It would replace Payless ShoeSource.

It looks like burrito offerings in El Cerrito will get a boost following the Planning Commission approval Wednesday night of a use permit for a Chipotle Mexican Grill on San Pablo Avenue across from El Cerrito Plaza.

The popular chain, which boasts of more than 900 outlets established since it began in 1993, would take over the space now occupied by Payless ShoeSource at 9901 San Pablo, at the intersection with Carlson Boulevard. The nearest Chipotle is located at San Pablo Avenue and Gilman Street in Berkeley.

The prospect of Chipotle moving to El Cerrito was highlighted by Mayor Bill Jones at the Tuesday night City Council meeting, when he said during closing announcements, "Chipotle is very successful nationwide, so I'm glad to have them, if eveything goes alright on the design and planning front." 

The proposal still needs to receive final design approval from the Design Review Board, but the board already endorsed the plan at an earlier meeting, seeing it as "appropriate for the site," according to a city staff report prepared for the Planning Commission. The Design Review Board is expected to consider it again at its next meeting, on May 2, said Sean Moss, a senior planner with the city.

The Planning Commission had to decide whether Chipotle, which will have 16 on-site parking spaces, could be excused from the required 21, and the panel agreed with city staff that sufficient nearby street parking is available to compensate for the shortage. It voted 6-0 to grant the permit, with chair Margaret Kavanaugh-Lynch absent.

"The proposed project is a prime example of how a space can be reused and realize its highest potential," the staff report said.

The space is opening up because the lease for Payless ShoeSource was not renewed, Moss told Patch.

The 2,845-square-foot building's first tenant in 1960 was MacFarlanes Candy Store, according to the staff report. 

Chipotle's Web site says it uses meat from animals raised without antibiotics or synthetic hormones whenever possible and that its produce is from local sources when practical. 

In other Planning Commission news, commissioner Michael Albrecht announced that Wednesday night's meeting was his last since he is moving to Germany.

GT April 19, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Boo! This is the east bay where we have authentic Mexican food. The last thing we need is another chain restaurant. The design of the entire Plaza is a disgrace, catering to giant corporations rather than being a nice space for the people.
Walter April 19, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Great love another business opening in El Cerrito but the other Chipotle is 1.35 mile or 3 minutes car ride away (per mapquest). Sounds like a recipe for disaster for one of to business. For me...just give me Gordo!
Evelyn Ruth Cecil Ortman April 19, 2012 at 04:05 PM
So is Payless Shoesource moving somewhere else nearby?
John Stashik April 19, 2012 at 04:27 PM
That would be a plus for El Cerrito. The chain is a cut above other fast food operators and quite successful.
Zach Copley April 20, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Excellent! El Cerrito needs more sources of urban food logs.
Ian April 20, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Why would they build a new Chipotle just over a mile away, as Walter has pointed out, from an existing Chipotle? Are they trying to capture the demographic of people are afraid of leaving the El Cerrito city limits when they're already on San Pablo Avenue? Maybe Chipotles can also open at the old Party Warehouse and Guitar Center locations, and the Moeser Safeway.
Walter April 20, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I don't disagree that the chain might be good (never been there) but just that there are 2 within 1.35 miles. I can understand a Mickey D where lots of young people will go but a restaurant?
WCCUSD parent April 20, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Sorry to hear mr. Albrecht is leaving the commission. That is a loss for El Cerrito! Hope he'll return to our community. Now, can we find a nice cafe or brew pub to occupy the B of A building on San Pablo? Or a Chipotle ....
Kathy A. April 20, 2012 at 02:15 AM
best burritos (on san pablo near stockton, east side of san pab) is a great local place! burritos made to order. also tacos, rice bowls; it is pretty much the only mexican/asian place around. http://www.yelp.com/biz/best-burritos-el-cerrito
Mark Kay April 20, 2012 at 05:33 AM
I believe chipotle offers humanely-raised meat and organic items.... Much as I like Best and Gordos, this makes a difference to me.
C.T. April 20, 2012 at 07:14 AM
Oh man...there's goes my perfect parking spot for going to Peets! I love to park at Payless and walk across the street to Peets rather than try and squeeze in their crazy lot. Can't imagine what parking will be like with a restaurant there! Why can't they put it at the empty Guitar Center, old Safeway, Little Rasberries, etc... Too many empty buildings!
Eric Bordax April 20, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Was El Cerrito really the best choice for a Chipotle? With the coming water shortage, now is not the time to get diarrhea.
Louise O'Dea April 20, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Funny that the Payless employees don't know about this. I went in there today and asked the man behind the counter and not only did he have no idea that the store was closing but he was very upset.
Jon Nguyen April 21, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Boo, I rather have an In-N-Out restaurant. I hate having to drive to either Oakland or Pinole.
Giorgio C. April 21, 2012 at 02:09 AM
7:09 pm on Friday, April 20, 2012 Rubio's and Gordo's works for me. Chipotle should not be supported one iota as they exploited undocumented workers. That's why they are a successful chain. How about making our decisions using our moral compass and supporting honest business owners. Hiring undocumented workers is one thing. Doing so for purpose of exploitation is another. http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-02-08/news/28550637_1_chipotle-burrito-immigration-policy
Eric Bordax April 21, 2012 at 04:06 PM
lol
Giorgio C. April 21, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Trader Joe's is another business that has been reminded to do its part in ensuring green, ethical, worker-friendly business practices. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/07/07/activists-target-trader-joes-over-a-trashy-tragic-practice/
duh April 22, 2012 at 08:26 PM
now I have to find a new job :(
Walter April 22, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Duh...consider this your 3 months or more.which is a lot these day!
duh April 22, 2012 at 11:44 PM
i dont get it
Lauren Childs April 23, 2012 at 02:45 PM
An all ages club and cafe catering to teens at the Guitar Center? We need a music/gathering venue for our kids! Open mike nights/varied genres! A safe place with no alcohol. Someone have the focus and resources to do this? I'll help!

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