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I have to tell you I have mixed feelings about what is going to happen tomorrow. A Chipotle restaurant is opening in my neighborhood. A long walk from my front door but on one of the routes I can take home from the office at night and easy to do a pick for a quick family dinner (my two daughters are fans and my wife likes the taste but not the portions). I am excited by the proximity to home and the convenience.

My concern stems from the location. Most urban stores are located near heavy foot traffic areas near large office buildings or college campuses. The locations near my office are in suburban malls or in stand alone buildings and draw on office folks during the lunch hour and the nearby bedroom community folks for dinner.

The location that will open tomorrow is odd. I don't see how it is going to really sustain a large lunch hour crowd during the week. It is near the Ft. McHenry exit (#55) on I95 and the UnderArmour corporate headquarters in Locust Point. There are a number of small businesses in the area. The T.Rowe Price and Legg Mason headquarters are nearby but there is another CMG in the inner harbor closer to those offices. I don't see the large numbers of businesses to fuel the lines at lunch. In addition, the number of small restaurant/bars in the area who all have their set of regulars should be decent competition for those dinning dollars for both lunch and dinner (one of my favorite places in the neighborhood that is at a similar price point is a place called Baba's Kitchen which will be just a couple of blocks from CMG, I know the owner there and love his food, we might pick felafel, hummus and kabobs over burritos).

I just don't understand how this location is going to generate the type of returns that we have come to expect from CMG stores. I know I have always said that I thought CMG could be 3,000 unit concept without oversaturation but I might have some concerns about that idea now. I think CMG might have "jumped the shark" here.

Believe me I will keep a close eye on the new store and post a follow up in a couple of weeks. Until then, wish me luck as I wade into the crowd tomorrow night to pick up our first CMG dinner from "our" Chipotle as my daughters have already started calling it.

Fool on!
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