New contender for best Mexican food arrives in Ames


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State Daily

Chipotle, located on the corner of South Duff Avenue and Fifth Street, is currently hiring.

Alexander Furman

Opening Feb. 9, Chipotle Mexican Grill can be found on 435 South Duff Ave. across the street from Pizza Hut.

The signs have been up for months, but no word has been spreading until just a few days ago, when Chipotle managers finalized recruiting efforts and started in-store training.

“We want to come in and suddenly explode,” explained manager John Barclay, referring to why they haven’t released any information, promotions or a website.

Chipotle has hired dozens of new employees, which are made up of approximately 20 day and 20 night shift cashiers and cooks; there are currently three managers.

All this week, employees have been coming into the store to work on preparing and wrapping food, learning how everything works and how to interact with customers.

These processes are called “mocks” because employees have a chance to bring in trusted friends to get used to serving customers.

As for the menu, employee Kelsey Knudsen has simply stated it was “awesome.”

“It’s kind of confusing because I’ve never had Chipotle … When you go in, they have three big signs where your options are bowl, burrito and taco. Then you pick what you want and pick your meats and salsa,” Knudsen stated. “It’s really basic, but there are a lot of combinations that you can get. I’ve been eating the food all week, and I haven’t gotten sick of it.”

Business will be running normally beginning on Feb. 9, with hours from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

As for the other Mexican food venues around Ames and Campustown, Chipotle has had one of the best receptions so far.

Other places like Taco Bell and Cazador don’t even see them as competitors.

“They [Chipotle] are pretty good neighbors,” stated Assistant Manager Phoebe Halladay of Taco Bell. “Their menu isn’t as similar to ours. So, there’s not too much direct competition. Like Texas Roadhouse, any new restaurant draws new attention because Ames doesn’t have a lot of variety.”

Halladay believes business might dip for them temporarily, but believes food sales should be back to normal soon.

Cazador will also be opening soon, and they agree that their venue and Chipotle’s aren’t even in competition; they offer completely different menus.

Knudsen has her own view as to why they’ll fare better than the others.

“We have it in the bag. I’m not worried about it, but I haven’t been to Pancheros. I’ve heard a lot of people love Chipotle, but we have very high standards. There’s cut sizes that have to be right, or they have to throw it away. If things aren’t good enough, we have to throw it away.”

Chipotle dubs themselves “fancy fast food” although there’s no drive- through.

Knudsen said the dining area can support only 52 people, and parking in the rear is limited.

It’s also been stated that there aren’t any specific student deals or promotions planned for their opening.