Chipotle Writes Petition to Take Over Castro Spot, San Franciscans Create Counter-Petition

Categories: Controversy

home restaurant.jpg
The now-defunct Home, proposed location of new Chipotle.
Over six months ago, Chipotle signed the lease to the former spot of Home on the corner of Church and Market. The old spot closed over a liquor license violation that did not permit booze service on the back patio. But that was over a year ago, and the space is still empty. Apparently, folks have been tapping the Eater tipline for more details about the Chipotle's opening, and have been busily signing petitions on both sides of the issue.

See also: Taste Testing Chipotle's New Hodo Soy Tofu Burrito
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San Francisco's Top 10 Burritos

So what's the hold-up? A few bureaucratic complications have caused the delay. The Castro has long held a ban on fast food, but is that the category Chipotle falls under? The chain straddles a hazy line, dishing out burritos from over 1,400 locations while riding on a mission statement that points to "Food with Integrity." This mission means buying (relatively) local, sourcing organic meat, and supporting small farmers with sustainable farming practices.

Its production volume and philosophy are a rare hybrid that makes Chipotle hard to classify, presenting a lot of questions in the face of S.F. restaurant law -- a system historically unfriendly to chains that wish to expand. Additionally, the spot is outside the edge of Castro proper, next to chains in the Safeway shopping center. Despite the legislative loopholes, culture fit still remains an issue.

Lucky for those of us who haven't sorted out our feelings on this, Chipotle has written a neatly worded petition inviting itself in and articulating our feelings for us, feelings we didn't even know we had. And all you have to do is sign it. The petition is a letter addressed to the San Francisco Planning Commission, and reminds us that Chipotle would be rescuing the neighborhood from the vacated space, an "eyesore in our community," and emphasizes the complete facade remodel, including a public art component that would be "unique" to the neighborhood and created with input from the community. (Though it seems like the lengths you'd have to go to be "unique" in the city's most colorful sector would be far outside the scope of a national chain. Not to say we wouldn't be up for some fajita-themed performance art ... as long as sequins are involved.)

Residents of the area seem to be divided. At this moment, Chipotle reports 176 signatures on the petition, but the comments section is peppered with critiques, calling Chipotle "faux-Mexican," and pointing to San Francisco's already high saturation of local taquerias. One dissenter contends that Chipotle, as a chain, does not "relay the spirit of San Francisco," a "hub of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit." Despite Chipotle's humble origins, born out of such spirit, and inspired by San Francisco's homegrown Mexican food culture, it seems the "chain" thing remains a turn-off for Castro-ites who cherish the quaint weirdness and special feeling of living somewhere that wants to be like nowhere else in the world. Chipotle wouldn't help with that.

To make your feelings known, you can sign the petition, email the restaurant at castrorestaurant@chipotle.com, or just march over there with your pitchfork and make a fuss. To sign a petition against the move in, go over to the counter-petition at Change.org. Otherwise, the planning commission is always a good place to contact.




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13 comments
Chim
Chim

Let the customers in the area decide what places they wish to patronize.  I have rarely gone to a Chipolte, but if people want it at that location, they will eat there, if not, it will close.  The Planning Commission should stick to major development policy matters, rezonings, etc. and it should not be involved with micro-manage building usage (yes, you can have a "local" vegan hut, but no you cannot have a franchise that makes organic burritos--whatever!!)--it really is a governmental overreach.  Butt out, and let the local market decide.

emcrawford
emcrawford

It's San Francisco, the cradle of the perfect burrito, the thing Chipotle peddles a pale imitation of. Coals to Newcastle, my friends. I give it 9 months.

Audrey Egan
Audrey Egan

I've lived and worked near this spot for years and have seen so many places close...Boston Market, etc. I think it needs to be re-purposed as something else besides a chain restaurant. I vote for a good, local ice cream shop.

Chim
Chim

@Audrey Egan You can already get ice cream in the Castro (albeit organic soft serve).  But, the "local ice cream" shop farther up on Castro Street where there is better foot traffic and which later became the "local gelateria" closed--apparently, there just isn't the demand to support it.  And, as you say, the place has had enough failed concepts.  I think a mid-range restaurant would do well (Home was there for quite a long time, though I think the food could have been stepped up a notch).

Concerns
Concerns

@Chim 

It's just that, as ever, the issue is the rent, and do we only let the highest bidders (which tend to be franchises and chains inless you're peddling foodie heights) get to determine our public marketplace and where we might eat outside of our homes (if we can afford them)?  I am endlessly grateful for SF tackling this serious quality of life issue as boldly as it can.

BillStewart2012
BillStewart2012

Burritos to go are fast food whether you get them at McChipotle or at a mom&pop authentic place in the Mission.  Either you allow them or you take responsibility and close down all the authentic places too.

paulc1978
paulc1978

Yes Chipotle is faux Mexican.  But what do you think Tacolicious is? Here is their veggie taco "butternut squash, poblano peppers, chicories, spicy pepitas." That's just as fake as Chipotle.

briansays
briansays

maybe if they put in some benches for older white guys to sit around nude they could get the support they need?

Vijay Rajendran
Vijay Rajendran

I live nearby. If the local taquerias are decent, people will still choose them over Chipotle. I know I will. Even though I won't be going to that chipotle, having the freedom to choose matters.

Paul Carlson
Paul Carlson

Why not? Empty space or a space taken over by a relatively good chain? I think I have my choice.

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