Mar 11, 2024 - News

Flashback: Chipotle arrived in Minnesota 25 years ago this week

A chipotle restaurant near the U of M with people walking on the sidewalk in front

The first Chipotle to open in the Twin Cities is this one, near the University of Minnesota. Photo: Google Street

Twenty-five years ago this week Chipotle opened its first Minnesota restaurant.

What they said: "A hot new restaurant will be trying to get fresh with the Twin Cities," wrote the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, before noting that it's pronounced "chi-poat-lay."

Why it matters: The Twin Cities was one of six markets where the burrito chain expanded outside of its hometown of Denver and its first expansion city, Kansas City.

Flashback: The first location opened in mid-March of 1999 near the University of Minnesota campus. By the end of the year, the Chipotles had opened in St. Paul's Highland Park, Minneapolis, Apple Valley, and St. Cloud.

  • All of these restaurants opened to great fanfare, according to Corey Jones, director of development for Chipotle's West region.
  • The Twin Cities was one the best test markets and gave the company more confidence to expand across the country, he said in an email.

By the numbers: Within five years there were 29 metro-area locations and today there are 69, with two more slated to open by the end of the year.

The big picture: Chipotle had a massive influence on the restaurant industry because it popularized the "fast casual" concept that mixed fast food with better and fresher ingredients

Yes, but: It also made waves locally. Inver Grove Heights-based Baja Sol had a similar concept that eventually grew to 10 locations, but they all closed by 2018.


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