Paris to become home to biggest Chipotle restaurant in world

The Chipotle Burrito. ― AFP pic
The Chipotle Burrito. ― AFP pic

PARIS, March 5 ― Chipotle will be opening its largest restaurant in Paris next month, with a location that will be triple the size of the chain's typical eatery.

Set to open in the city’s business district of La Défense in the northwest end of Paris, Chipotle’s third Parisian outpost will span 7,000 square feet (650 square meters) and seat about 150 people.

A typical Chipotle restaurant is between 2,200 and 2,500 square feet (between 204 and 232 square meters).

The latest opening in the City of Light is part of the company’s ongoing strategy to focus on three key markets: France, the UK, and Germany, said Damon Biggins, market manager for France and Germany.

Meanwhile, though Biggins says the company didn’t set out specifically to look for the biggest restaurant in Paris, the opening comes as the spicy, punchy flavors of Mexican cuisine are gaining mainstream popularity in a city and gastronomic culture famous for being spice-averse.

“When we first opened in France, everyone told me we had to back off on the spice,” Biggins said in an interview with Relaxnews.

Local consultants warned him that the French palate wouldn’t take kindly to the spice-infused flavors of salsas and chili peppers.

“But our most popular salsa is medium-hot,” he said. “A large part of why we’ve been successful is because of the ethnic flavours, if you will, and the nuanced, depth of flavours.”

Indeed, Mexican fare has seen a growth in popularity thanks to what started out as an underground foodie trend, driven largely by expats.

American-Canadian entrepreneur Jordan Feilders popularised tacos a few years ago when he launched Cantine California, a food truck that was seen as a novelty in Paris and developed a cult following among the hip, foodie crowd.

The success of Cantine California led to a brick and mortar restaurant, Le Depanneur, which is repeatedly cited as one of the city’s trendier addresses. Recently, the restaurant fed Kanye West, while Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard also paid a visit to the food truck.

Another Mexican address popular among the city’s hipster bobo (French for ‘bohemian bourgeois') crowd is El Nopal, a hole-in-the-wall eatery in the 10th arrondissement that serves up authentic Mexican burritos and tacos for lines of fashionable foodies.

The third Chipotle location will open in the square of La Défense between McDonald’s and Sephora and is slated to open in April. ― AFP-Relaxnews