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Q: Just checking in with you to see if you have any more details on the expected opening of the new Chipotle at Mercato. Any info is greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.
— Kyle Cebull, Fort Myers
Q: So, what is the grand opening date for Chipotle? Back in January, you said March. Please do an update. I love their food (in California), the best ever burritos, etc. Yummy! I was so happy to read your January article.
— Carole Vogt, Naples
A: It's really "unburritable," to borrow one of Chipotle Mexican Grill's slogans, but the opening of the company's long-awaited North Naples location in Mercato has been delayed again — this time until April 12.
"We expected this restaurant to open in late March or early April, and now expect it to open in mid-April. But please note, that could still change," said Chris Arnold, a spokesman for the Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill .
Last year, the company initially had hoped to open the region's first Chipotle location at 9100 Strada Place in Mercato by the end of 2010. Then, a specific opening date — Jan. 18 — was set. But, when that didn't happen, Chipotle said it would open in late March. Now, mark April 12 on your calendar, in pencil.
"Construction projects get delayed all the time, which is why we don't put specific dates to openings until we have cleared enough hurdles to be confident in a date," Arnold said.
Why the delay? The company says "because of some complications coordinating utilities."
It's a utilities issue, alright, but not something you really want to associate with a burrito joint. The restaurant's underground sewer lines did not align and could not be properly connected.
A new sewer lateral line had to be installed because the building elevation was too high and it did not line up with the main line, according to Collier County spokesman John Torre.
"At this point, the county is waiting on the applicant to resubmit the revised permit application," Torre said.
Many transplanted Chipotle fanatics have been waiting, too. And waiting. And waiting.
A March 16 post by Christina Hoover on a Facebook page, "Southwest Floridians For Chipotle," pretty much sums up local sentiment about a series of delays in the opening of the popular Mexican grill in Mercato: "Ugh, I'm so over this pushing back business! I need my Chipotle!"
Hoover is not kidding when she says she needs her Chipotle burrito fix. In an earlier post, she writes:
"What's with all the delays of the Chipotle in Naples, FL?! I just moved here around a month ago from Colorado and haven't gone this long without Chipotle for at least 5 years! Please say you're still opening late March!"
Some encouraging activity has been seen lately at the future location as recruiters interview prospective employees, about 25 of which will be hired for the fast-casual restaurant. Walk-in interviews have been conducted daily this week for prep/grill cooks, line servers and cashiers. Open job interviews for hourly kitchen and service managers were held a month ago.
Chipotle, which owns all of its more than 1,000 locations throughout the nation and abroad, says it costs the company about $850,000 to open a new restaurant, according to its 2009 annual report. The company spokesman would not reveal how much cost overruns might be on the Naples project because of work associated with unforeseen delays.
"We don't disclose cost details associated with individual projects," Arnold said.
More restaurant news
■ Coconut Jack's Waterfront Grille opened Feb. 25 in the former location of Vincenzo's on the Bay, 5370 Bonita Beach Road. The new restaurant is open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
■ Boston's Restaurant and Sports Bar opened March 11 in Sugden Park Plaza, off U.S. 41 East in East Naples. The new venue is open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
■ Jimmy P's Butcher Shop & Deli, 1833 U.S. 41 N., is expanding globally. Overnight shipping of the Naples shop's popular Kobe wagyu steaks and ground beef is now available for ordering online at jimmypsbutchershop.com or by calling the store, 1-866-998-8927.
■ Outback Steakhouse at 12995 U.S. 41 in Fort Myers remains closed since a March 16 electrical fire in its attic. The restaurant is expected to be reopened, but OSI Restaurant Partners does not have a date set yet, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
■ Dunkin' Donuts is planning to open a 2,028-square-foot outparcel in mid-2011 in the former location of Jimmy's Roadhouse in Springs Plaza, 8951 Bonita Beach Road, in Bonita Springs, according to Ram Realty Services, developer of the shopping center.
■ Seasons 52 broke ground this week on its fresh grill and wine bar restaurant at 8930 U.S. 41 N., just south of Mercato and its sister Darden restaurant, The Capital Grille. The North Naples location is expected to open this fall.
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