Chipotle has had a rough summer of norovirus outbreaks, federal investigations, and lawsuits by shareholders, but it’s looking to expand to the New Orleans Garden District in early 2018. The restaurant chain is eyeing the former Radio Shack location across from Sake Cafe. This spot would be the first in New Orleans, though there are several locations in suburban areas around town.
For zoning purposes, the giant chain, which claims to be the largest purchaser of Tabasco brand hot sauce in the world, prefers not to be considered fast food though, according to a report by Robert Morris in the Uptown Messenger.
Chipotle argues that this location should rather be considered a “standard restaurant” for zoning purposes. This designation may mean that this Chipotle could sell alcohol, but there are no details on plans for that yet. Arguments for the zoning designation include the seasonality of its menus; plans for a smaller dining area, recessed patio, and “halo illumination;” condiments at the tables rather than at a condiment bar; among other things.
The argument further claims that Chipotle only meets one of the “‘fast food criteria’ and ‘thus should be considered a standard restaurant for zoning purposes, the city planning department’s note on it says it meets at least three of them — ‘and therefore is a fast food restaurant.’”
The “standard restaurant” would like open in early 2018 should it be approved.