Chipotle Mexican Grill hosted its grand opening last Friday in downtown San Luis Obispo. The restaurant offered a free burrito to anyone who came with a Cal Poly ID, on Wednesday. The line spanned three blocks and it took some restaurant-goers four hours before they reached the entrance to claim their burrito.
More than 5,000 free burritos were given away Wednesday night.
The restaurant, located on the ground floor of the Wineman Building on the corner of Higuera and Chorro Streets, opened after planning began last summer.
The opening occurred after more than 1,500 people in the city signed an online petition via Facebook.com that was aimed at bringing Chipotle to the Central Coast.
Wednesday’s free burrito offer caused a line that wrapped around the Wineman building onto the next block. Many waiting for food were Cal Poly students.
Kirk Wagner, a civil engineering senior, said he had been in line for about two and a half hours.
“I was driving downtown around 4:30 p.m. and saw a friend of mine in line,” Wagner said. “In the time it took me to go park and come back the line was another half a block long.”
Vincent Luchsinger, a mechanical engineering junior, said he doesn’t like the Chipotle menu very much because of the restaurant’s cafeteria-style of serving and limited food options. Wagner said he was really only there for the free food.
“I’m not a huge Chipotle fan myself,” Wagner said. “But I’m from Santa Barbara and I know people who will call me and say ‘Hey I’m coming into town; we’re getting Chipotle!’”
Santa Barbara was home to the closest Chipotle location before this franchise opened. Since the company’s start in 1993, it has opened locations in more than 120 U.S. cities.
According to their Web site, Chipotle’s corporate initiative is to serve organic, sustainable and naturally-raised products.
Samuel Tseng, a biomedical engineering junior, and Jessica Hernandez, a political science junior, said they braved the rain on Wednesday night to try the restaurant.
“I didn’t know that (Chipotle) sourced some of their products around here until the other day. I like that. It means my food is going to be a lot fresher than any other fast food I’m going to get in San Luis Obispo,” Tseng said.
Hernandez joked about her affinity towards the Mexican food chain.
“Chipotle is definitely not real home-style Mexican food but they make a damn good burrito,” Hernandez said.
Mikaela Akuna and Cassandra Keyse contributed to this story.