Anyone standing at the main entrance of El Cerrito Plaze and looking across San Pablo Avenue can see a new Chipotle restaurant being born.
A banner saying "Burritofication in Progress" and carrying the Chipotle Mexican Grill logo is attached to the front of the building. A large dumpster and construction debris sit in the parking lot while workers busy themselves with the conversion of the former home of Payless ShoeSource.
The Colorado-based Chipotle chain won approval of a use permit from the El Cerrito Planning Commission in April to open an outlet at 9901 San Pablo, at the intersection with Carlson Boulevard.
The company boasts more than 900 outlets established since it began in 1993 and says says it uses meat from animals raised without antibiotics or synthetic hormones whenever possible and that its produce is from local sources when practical.
The nearest Chipotle is located at San Pablo Avenue and Gilman Street in Berkeley.
The 2,845-square-foot building that will become Chipotle's El Cerrito outlet was originally a MacFarlanes Candy Store when it got its first tenant in 1960, according to a city staff report presented to the Planning Commission.
The space opened up this year because the lease for Payless ShoeSource was not renewed, according to Sean Moss, a senior planner with the city.
A large crowd turned up for a soft opening of a new Chipotle in Malibu on Oct. 23.