Chipotle Closes Business at Harvard Square | New
Chipotle Mexican Grill will no longer be an option for college students looking to satisfy their burrito cravings. The quick and casual Mexican restaurant closed its location in Harvard Square earlier this month.
Chipotle, known for its burritos and burrito bowls, has had a place in One Brattle Square for over a decade. Declining popularity and intense competition from rival Mexican restaurants like El Jefe’s Taqueria and Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria were the driving forces behind Chipotle’s departure, according to Harvard Square Business Association executive director Denise A. Jillson.
“We had known for a while that they had a hard time staying open. They just weren’t getting the kind of business they needed to stay a vibrant and viable business in Harvard Square, ”Jillson said.
The restaurant was greeted by a enthusiastic welcome when it first moved to Harvard Square in early 2008. Its grand opening saw long lines hungry diners eager to support the chain’s arrival in the plaza – and grab a free burrito to celebrate. But its popularity has waned in recent years.
Jillson said Chipotle has failed to match Square rivals in attracting customers. Other Mexican restaurants in the square have retained loyal consumer bases that have given them the upper hand, according to Jillson.
“When a business goes bankrupt or leaves the Square, there is always more than one reason and often, in almost all cases, it’s the consumer,” she said.
Jillson also cited the negative publicity surrounding recent outbreaks of foodborne illness as a potential cause of the company’s declining success. In 2015, 80 Boston College students fell ill with norovirus after eating at a local Chipotle. The chain’s reputation suffered another blow in the summer of 2018 after an outbreak of Clostridium perfringens at a restaurant in Ohio.
Chipotle’s headquarters did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s unclear who will fill the space left by Chipotle. Piedmont Office Realty Trust, Inc., the real estate investment firm that owns the One Brattle Square property, did not respond to a request for comment.
Several students said they appreciate the convenience, quality and affordability of Chipotle, and will miss the restaurant.
“I’ve always loved Chipotle,” Clay E. Oxford ’22 said. “It was a good, reliable option, and I always knew what I was getting.”
Lauren A. Sierra ’19 said she was saddened and disappointed by the news of Chipotle’s closure. She said she will now have to go to El Jefe and Felipe for her burrito bowls.
“I just don’t understand why we can’t have nice things,” said Sierra, a former editor at Crimson.
Although it is now more difficult for Harvard students to dine at Chipotle, Cambridge residents still have access to four other Chipotle establishments across the city. The Chipotle closest to Harvard Square will now be on Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge’s Central Square.
Diab “Dody” T. Eid ’20 wrote in an email that Chipotle’s shutdown shocked and dismayed him.
“It’s the worst thing that has happened in Cambridge, maybe ever,” Eid wrote. “Every time I walk past Harvard University Employees Credit Union, as I often do, I look across the street to remember what was once there, but is now lost forever. “
– Editor-in-chief Katelyn X. Li can be reached at [email protected]
– Editor Declan J. Knieriem can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DeclanKnieriem.