The "fast casual" restaurant chain Chipotle has faced a long road to set up shop on Magazine Street, but now work is again underway to open a new location for the burrito brand on the edge of the Garden District.
Signs are up and renovation work is proceeding at the storefront at 2801 Magazine St., and the company has posted job ads for what it calls its Garden District location. A company representative said the outlet is expected to open this summer.
The move marks an about-face from a year ago, when Chipotle pulled out of ongoing plans to open at the site and subsequently landed in court.
The proposed location proved contentious early on. When plans for it first became known in 2017, they drew objections from some nearby residents and neighborhood associations. The critics argued that the national chain was out of character for a commercial street known for its local businesses and that the city had improperly classified Chipotle as a standard restaurant, rather than a fast-food outlet.
The strip mall building slated for this Chipotle is also home to a Starbucks, among other local businesses and chain outlets.
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Eventually, the property owner reached a “good neighbor agreement” with the associations, which placed restrictions on the use of the property.
However, in March 2018, Chipotle told the property owner it would no longer open there, according to court documents. In response, the owner sued Chipotle, seeking lease payments of $1.2 million and other damages, arguing the good neighbor agreement had lowered the value of the building. Among other things, the agreement said that, once Chipotle's lease expired, "no portion" of the building would be used as a restaurant.
Court documents show the two sides reached a private settlement late last year, and the case was officially dismissed in February.
Shelley Landrieu, executive director of the Garden District Association, said that from the beginning her group was concerned about chains eroding the local character of Magazine Street.
"We certainly welcome them to the neighborhood," she said in light of Chipotle's new plans. "But we hope there can be better planning and processes for boulevards like Magazine Street that add so much to the culture of New Orleans, so that they don't turn into Anywhere U.S.A."
Chipotle has some 2,500 locations in the U.S. and overseas. Locally, it has outposts in Metairie, Harahan, Slidell and Mandeville.
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