Looking to try something new for lunch or dinner? Chipotle celebrates its grand opening today. The eatery will begin serving guests at 11 a.m. at its 117 E. Broad St. location.
The Mexican Grill, part of a national chain, is known for its fresh approach to fast food. Founded by Steve Ells, a chef, who opened the first Chipotle in Denver, Colo. in 1993, the organization prides itself on serving "food with integrity," which Chipotle's website describes as its "commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the farmers and the environment."
"Steve believes we're all on a journey," said Megan Harvey, regional manager for Chipotle. "That journey is about getting people excited about being socially responsible."
In keeping with its philosophy, the restaurant uses meat from vegetarian-fed animals, who are raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones and treated as humanely as possible. Chipotle also sources organic and local produce when practical and uses dairy from cows raised without the use of synthetic hormones.
Everything is made to order, Harvey said. The food comes right off the grill and onto the line.
"We're trying to change the way people think and talk about fast food. Just because it's fast, doesn't mean it's not healthy," Harvey said.
Featuring an "honest and open kitchen," Harvey explained that Chipotle has "no freezers, no microwaves and no can openers."
The Chipotle teams starts chopping cilantro and dicing tomatoes and onions for the salsa bright and early each morning. The chain is also one of the largest purchasers of avocados in the country. Its chips, made fresh daily and seasoned with salt and lime, are another popular item, Harvey said. Chipotle also offers a kids menu that allows little diners a chance to create their own tacos or sample mini-quesadillas.
With seating for up to 67 guests in booth, table and bar stool format, the space's decor boasts exposed brick and Mayan-inspired artwork.
Wanting to make the experience as easy as possible for diners, Chipotle offers an iPhone app that allows customers to view the menu, place their order and pay. Orders also can be placed online or via fax.
"We have an appreciation for people's time," Harvey said. "Even though sometimes you might see a big line, people move through the line quickly. Our servers are excited to create an overall positive experience."
Chipotle is accepting applications for those interested in full- or part-time work.
"We're always looking for great people," Harvey said.
The grill's arrival in Westfield has come under fire from some residents who feel that the town, also home to Mexican-style chains and , is taking on a food-court vibe.
Patch reader Concerned Citizen commented: "...the town of Westfield is getting a reputation of "Food Court"! "Over Developed"."
Chris Mench wrote: "Why are we getting a Chipotle when we already have a Qdoba?"
Others are looking forward to a new option.
Reader Rusty Cut wrote: "Chipotle will be a great addition, the food is phenomenal and fresh" and added "Was very disappointed Chipotle didn't open this week. I've been holding off going to the Springfield location because this was opening..I need my fix!"
The eatery's opening, originally set for Wednesday, April 25, was by a week due to technical glitches.
Scotch Plains resident Wes Johannsen said he has been eagerly awaiting Chipotle's Westfield debut.
"I can't wait to get the chicken fajita burrito," Johannsen said. "It weighs about five pounds. So good. They have a vegetarian burrito, or a burrito bowl. They really only have like five things but they're good."
"We're super-excited and we've had a great response from people who've walked in thinking we're open," said Harvey on Monday. "We can't wait for people to see what we're cooking and how we're cooking it."
Harvey said Chipotle's tenets make it a company she is proud to be a part of.
"It's a great environment," she said. "Being a part of spreading that message, and knowing that everything is done with integrity and social responsibility, I'm proud to do it."
Chipotle will be open daily from 11 a.m to 10 p.m. For more information, visit the website or call 908-232-2709.
Will you check out Chipotle today? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments.