CONSTRUCTION IS UNDERWAY AFTER EARLY APPROVAL PROBLEMS
By Lauren Sullivan, Staff Writer
“When is Chipotle opening?” This question can be heard throughout the JC and anywhere students are found on campus. We did some digging so you can know when you’ll be able to order a rice bowl or burrito anytime you want.
Since the announcement of Chipotle’s imminent arrival last spring, students have been anxious to have one of the most popular Mexican dining options on campus. Originally projected to open at the beginning of fall like this semester’s other new dining options, Mason students are becoming frustrated at the ongoing construction at Chipotle’s location in the Johnson Center.
There is still no confirmed date for Chipotle’s grand opening at Mason. Director of Strategic Communications Michael Sandler said that the current schedule has the projected opening set for some time before the start of the spring semester. He added that this schedule is subject to change, but Chipotle and the school are hoping to be open for business by then.
Mark Kraner, Executive Director of Campus Retail Operations, explained that the permit process for Chipotle proved to be a challenge. The state agency with approval authority is called Building Capital Outlay Management (BCOM).
“They do all the permitting and the reviews before [construction], and give them their occupancy certificate so they can open,” said Kraner.
“The delay was getting their original drawings approved through BCOM,” he explained. “That is not unusual… we had that same problem with Panda Express and Manhattan Pizza.”
“Chipotle has not been in a college before and every permitting agency has different requirements,” Kraner said. “[Going from] working with Fairfax county to working with BCOM is very different in what standards they approve to, and working with BCOM will go to the highest level and standards because it is going into a state building.”
The lengthy approval process starts over each time construction plans are resubmitted.
“It takes 10-12 weeks – up to three months – to get the plans approved, and if there are any problems it can take a little longer,” said Kraner.
But the hurdles for opening in a public facility like Mason don’t end there.
“They have to go through reviews once they get construction done, and all of that is dependent on getting the state fire marshal and folks from Richmond to come up and approve it,” said Kraner.
Still, he was confident that the new Chipotle is back on track after the initial setbacks.
“It is under construction, they are closing in the walls and everything looks to be on target,” he confirmed. “Odds are they will be done at the end of the current semester and ready to hire and train employees for the spring.”
Until then, Mason students will have to make Chipotle runs off campus.
Photo Courtesy of Michael Eberhart