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After years of rumors and controversy, Chipotle Mexican Grill will finally come to Thayer Street. A company spokesperson told The Herald that the restaurant should be open around November. But nearby residents, would-be competitors and, until yesterday, even the University's administration have still hassled the new kid on the block.

The Providence Journal reported earlier this month that Chipotle withdrew its request for a liquor license and a 2 a.m. closing time in the face of an outpouring of opposition. We were initially disappointed to read that the University was among the opponents, along with several individuals who either manage or lease property to other Thayer Street restaurants. According to the Journal story, University spokeswoman Marisa Quinn voiced concerns that another liquor-serving, late-night establishment would create more opportunity for alcohol-related incidents.

Just yesterday, Brown and Chipotle reached a compromise, the Associated Press reported. Brown will accept the new location serving food until 2 a.m. as long as it ceases alcohol sales at 10 p.m. We applaud the University for revising its position and working to give students another neighborhood dining option. Now, it should persuade other nervous College Hill residents and business owners that this agreement is for the best.

Those still pushing for an earlier closing time fundamentally misunderstand what Chipotle brings to Thayer Street. We believe that few patrons will go to Chipotle to drink heavily. As the Journal article notes, there are already 10 other places on Thayer Street that are licensed to serve alcohol. And any Chipotle frequenter can attest that the chain's locations don't feel like bars — the overwhelming emphasis is on the food.

Rather, Chipotle will become a prime option for inexpensive, natural eats. And considering college students' sleep and study habits, it's the sort of option students will want to have available between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. In fact, we would be open to even more restrictions on the restaurant's alcohol sales if it meant food could be served until the wee hours of the morning.

Ironically, if the goal is to prevent drunkenness and disorderly conduct, then forcing the new location to close early might be somewhat counterproductive. The chain is known for serving large portions of rice, beans and meat. Because having a full stomach slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, these big, filling meals are just what people should eat if they plan on a long night of heavy drinking.

Chipotle's arrival on College Hill was first reported by The Herald in 2007, but those initial plans fell apart after other Thayer Street business owners successfully appealed a decision by the city's zoning board. Chipotle has found a new spot, but it appears that at least one of the owners involved in that appeal is now among those calling for the early closing time. We've waited a long time now, and the University shouldn't help self-interested business owners bully us out of those burritos yet again.

Editorials are written by The Herald's editorial page board. Send comments to editorials (at) browndailyherald.com.


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