Monday, April 7, 2008

Local Athens Eateries Confident With Chipotle Arrival

Joyelle Freeman

The restaurant chain sensation Chipotle Mexican Grill has hit Athens, at 41 South Court Street, but local eateries say they are not concerned.

Burrito Buggy worker Damon Krane said their strong customer base will be enough to pull them through.

"We've had a lot of support from local folks. That support combined with late night business should save the buggy," said Krane. Chipotle closes at ten each night.

Krane said his business has increased since Chipotle's opening.

"So far we've been OK. On the grand opening day for Chipotle, it was the busiest day of the week," said Krane.

Long-time local restaurant Casa Nueva has shown no concern with the new competition. Nancie Vuerkel, manager, noted that the difference in the food selection has kept their customers coming.

"We don't serve the same kind of food that they do. We're not a traditional Mexican restaurant. We're also not fast food. We have breakfast, including traditional eggs with toast and bacon. We also have sandwiches," said Vuerkel.

Vuerkel noted that they serve a more diverse audience.

"We hit all bases in Athens. Every kind of customer comes into our restaurant," said Vuerkel.

Still, some people say they are only going to go to Chipotle.

Ohio University student Brett Hines expresses his undying love for Chipotle.

Local restaurant managers tell Athens MidDay they believe their longevity in Athens speaks volumes and will prove to be the distinguishing factor.

"We're not owned by McDonald's, we're locally owned," said Krane. Neither is Chipotle any more; McDonald's pulled out a year and a half ago.

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