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Chipotle clears licensing hurdle

The soon-to-be Chipotle location on Thayer is set to open after concerns regarding the terms of its liquor license were resolved.

The Mexican-style eatery had originally requested a full liquor license from the city Board of Licenses, said Allison Spooner, president of the College Hill Neighborhood Association. Such a license would have allowed the restaurant to sell hard alcohol and beer and to stay open until 2 a.m., much like other bars on Thayer Street.

Instead, the restaurant will serve only beer and margaritas, and only until 10 p.m.

The neighborhood association filed an official complaint at the hearing for the license on Aug. 11. "We opposed the full liquor license" as well as "the 2 a.m. closing," Spooner said.

"With Chipotle, none of their (other) restaurants are open past eleven o'clock," she added. "We didn't see why they needed to make an exception for Thayer Street."

Brown also opposed the initial liquor license terms, said Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations. "We sent a letter of objection when we heard that it was a 2 a.m. closing and a full liquor license," she said. "It was really a combination of those two things."

But the restaurant's intentions are not to serve as another Thayer Street bar location, said Chris Arnold, public relations director for the company. The interior "won't even have a bar," he said.

Arnold indicated that the city can grant two types of liquor license: a full one, and a lesser one that would permit them to serve only beer and wine. "We applied for the full liquor license because that's what we need to serve margaritas, but we're not a bar," he said.

"There are people to whom having a beer or margarita with their burrito rounds up their experience, which is why we do it," Arnold added.

Chipotle locations in general — as well as this Chipotle — stay open no later than 10 p.m., Arnold said, so the 2 a.m. closing time permitted by the license would make no difference.

Chipotle specified its intentions to the Providence Board of Licenses "about a week and a half after the hearing," Spooner said.

The Board then granted Chipotle a restricted liquor license — permitting the sale of beer and margaritas only — after the University withdrew its objection.

 "People's opposition is understandable when they see a liquor license filing without understanding the nature of the business," Arnold said.

"It seems like a kind of restaurant that many students would like," Quinn said. "It adds to the diversity of the establishments on Thayer Street."

The restaurant would have opened regardless of whether it had obtained a liquor license, Arnold said. "Alcohol amounts to between 1 and 2 percent of our sales, so in many cases it's not profitable," he said.

As for the opening date, "it is too far off to have a date but some time in the fourth quarter" of the year, Arnold said.




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