November 13th is a day which I have long waited. Chipotle Mexican Grill will finally come to Nashville, Tennessee. When I came to Nashville for school in 2004, I was mildly surprised to find out that such a chic urban center did not have the proliferating gourmet burrito joint. I reassured myself by imagining it wouldn’t be long until it came, but all through my college years it was a dream differed. No longer.
That being said, I realize the fierce loyalty many in this city have for the “independent” assembly line burrito places, or even other chains. Some just prefer different styles of “fast casual” Mexican, and I can deal with that. If you don’t like cilantro, you don’t. But at the same time, I fear just as many will dismiss an awe-inspiring taste experience backed by an incredibly responsible business model out of that same sense of blind loyalty. Ergo, I will lay out a few points as to why you, as a Nashvillian and perhaps responsible citizen, ought to visit the new Chipotle location at 2825 West End Avenue. (I read that’s the address). I will keep my remarks positive regarding Chipotle and not comment on any competitors, though the reader may interpolate that the absence of comment on others indicates a total lack of, or at least inferior degree of, the mentioned attributes
- Food with integrity – You won’t read much about Chipotle Mexican Grill before you come across this phrase. The founder, Steve Ells, has pledged to swim against the current of fast food in this nation by utilizing as many fresh, natural, and even organic ingredients as possible. Furthermore, they strongly prefer to work with small family farms as opposed to corporate entities. Their commitment to these principles has allowed sustainable agriculture to become a profitable business model, and the company went so far as to sponsor viewings of Food, Inc. in several cities.
- Dedication to quality and consistency – Without rehashing too much of the content available on the Chipotle website, it is worth noting that Steve Ells is also a trained gourmet chef. This fact explains the incredible attention to detail given to each ingredient in the burrito assembly line. Herbs and spices are applied in ways only someone versed in the nuances of food could imagine. Staff at each location meticulously follow the recipes developed over years to ensure a glorious experience for each visitor.
- Price and value – When throwing words like “sustainable” and “organic” around, I always see them followed by dollar signs, yet an enormous burrito stuffed to capacity with the aforementioned ingredients costs only $6 to $7. The price does not include chips, but personally I’ve never been bothered by that. If you give something away, it must not be worth much, right? Furthermore, a burrito could be (and truthfully for caloric sake probably should be) split up into two meals, or at least a meal and a snack. It is perhaps the most filling $7 I know.
- The impact of your purchase – Where we spend our money inevitably has an impact on the world, for better or worse. In addition to being advocates for fresh, natural food, Chipotle seeks to be good stewards of natural resources, or at least as good as a business can be. They have earned LEED certification for a particular restaurant and have a plan to utilize solar power at numerous locations. Say what you will about our role in caring for Earth, but I don’t think many would argue against using wind and solar power instead of relying on fossil fuels which will one day run out.
That is why I believe people in Nashville (particularly the young, green, socially-active hipster crowd) should swing by for some tacos and risk becoming lifelong fans. I can’t stand giant, soul-less corporations as much as anyone, but a nationwide chain need not be automatically labeled as such. When a company does something excellently and responsibly and pushes to change the way a nation of mass-produced, preservative-fed people eats, I will gladly give them my business. I’m under no illusion that the food is some super-healthy remedy just because it’s natural; portion sizes and caloric content are excessive right alongside other restaurants, but if you’re going to indulge, best it be on real honest-to-goodness food. See you at Chipotle.
(For more information, check out the Wikipedia article, which provides an objective look).