The Planning Commission will wade into a Castro burrito battle when it meets June 20. That Thursday is when the hearing on a proposed Chipotle Mexican Grill on upper Market Street has been scheduled.
The national Mexican food purveyor wants to open at the old Home restaurant location at the corner of Market and Church streets. Gay former San Francisco chef Steve Ells founded the Denver-based chain in 1993 and is its chairman and co-CEO.
Indoors will be seating for about 60 people. Entrances are planned from the parking lot, Market Street and off of 14th Street.
The plan calls for serving margaritas and beer, though company officials have said no alcohol will be allowed in the outside patio area. The menu will be limited, similar to its other locations, and customers would order and pay for their food first then seat themselves.
As the Bay Area Reporter has previously reported, the company is facing strong headwinds against its permit requests for the space, which has been vacant since Home abruptly closed in the summer of 2011. Neighborhood opposition to Chipotle has been widespread, and planning staff announced in February they would not recommend it for approval.
Since then the Planning Commission has adopted new rules aimed at limiting the number of chain stores along Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street. While planning staff has yet to reveal their calculations, it is expected that the Chipotle would exceed the 20 percent threshold for formula retail within a 300-foot radius.
The 2100 Market Street location is across Church Street from Safeway, two Starbucks, a Wells Fargo Bank, and a Jamba Juice. Across from it on Market Street is a Walgreens and 24 Hour Fitness gym.
Less than two weeks ago the Planning Commission rejected a Starbucks at the corner of Market and Sanchez streets for coming in at 21 percent based on the new chain store rules. Like Chipotle, the coffee chain also faced deep opposition from Castro residents and merchants.
To drum up support for its application, Chipotle launched an online petition and advertising campaign earlier this year. It also has been advertising at the Muni stations serving the Castro district.
Next month it is throwing a food and music festival in Golden Gate Park. The June 8 outdoor event is free to attend, though Chipotle food offerings will be priced $5 to $7, beers $6 and other drinks $2. There will also be other food vendors participating.
It remains to be seen if the company’s efforts will produce enough good will and community support to generate a positive vote at the Planning Commission.
The oversight panel’s meetings begin at noon Thursdays in Room 400 of City Hall. It posts each meeting’s agenda a week prior.