Ithaca heralded the grand opening of its first Chipotle Mexican Grill on Tuesday with crowds of patrons wrapping around the restaurant. The popular chain first announced its opening in November, rousing the excitement of Cornell students.
“I’ve had a lot of experience with Chipotle. It is hands down the best fast food around,” Seth Braunstein ’13 said as he waited in line. “Finally Ithaca came to its senses and got one, and that’s awesome … There’s no way I’m going to miss the grand opening.”
Michael Twiford ’14, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area where there are over 75 of the burrito-based restaurants, said that, since he has a Chipotle at home, he is “so excited that it finally coming to Ithaca.”
“I’ve been waiting for this Chipotle for weeks and I’m just so happy to be here,” Twiford said.
Chipotle staff said their day was kept busy with eager diners milling around the restaurant.
“Our day’s been really busy, with people lining up all day. People have camped outside and stuff like that,” Kendra Loya, Chipotle training coordinator, said. “It’s been out the door.”
Loya, who has worked with Chipotle for three years, said she travels to train staff at newly opening branches. She has been working with the new Chipotle team in Ithaca since Feb. 13.
“It’s been great,” Loya said.
While many enthusiasts were content with waiting in lines snaked around the store, the packed restaurant was a deterrent for some customers. Ithaca resident Elayne Weiner decided to leave after seeing the mob lining up for the famed burritos.
“Somebody must have said there was free food so half of Cornell and probably half of [Ithaca College] are here,” Weiner said. “They’re all waiting in line to pay for food in a Chipotle. I’ve been to a Chipotle in Virginia, and it is good, but I wouldn’t wait an hour for Chipotle.”
Ben Rosenthal ’13, however, said that he and his group of friends did not mind waiting in line for about half an hour.
“It was efficient, pretty fast. Not too bad at all,” Rosenthal said.
Ithaca resident Christina Kamin’s car was a casualty to the excitement surrounding the restaurant’s opening. On Monday, a driver ran into a tractor after spotting the Chipotle sign, before hitting Kamin’s car, according to Kamin.
“I figured she must know something that I don’t since she was out of state, so we decided to come here on opening day.” Kamin said. “I’m not too upset … She was right. It really is good.”
One of the nation’s fastest growing chains, Chipotle recently gained national attention after its Grammy Awards television advertisement became popular on social networking sites. In January 2011, Business Insider referred to Chipotle as the “Golden Standard” for Mexican fast food with its high quality ingredients and standards of service.