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Chipotle Mexican Grill is coming to town

A contactor demolished the old Moose Cafe building and cleared the site for a Chipotle Mexican Grill and Aspen Dental office. A contactor demolished the old Moose Cafe building and cleared the site for a Chipotle Mexican Grill and Aspen Dental office.

A contractor expects to start construction next week on a 5,929-square-foot building that will house a Chipotle Mexican Grill and an Aspen Dental Clinic.

Built as a Lizard’s Thicket, the building at 59 Highlands Square Drive next became the Mad Greek Eatery and in the end was the Moose Café. The property sold on Dec. 31 to Greenville, S.C.- based Carolina Holdings Inc. for $1,225,000. Britt Goodson, of Carolina Holdings Inc., confirmed only that the building would house a restaurant with a drive-through window on the side facing I-26 and a dental office on the side closest to the gas pumps. Since the first of the year a contractor has bulldozed the old building and cleared the site for new construction.

A spokesman for California-based Chipotle confirmed that the fast-growing chain plans to open the store this year.

"We are currently scheduled to open a location in Hendersonville at some point in the fall," Tyler Benson, an external communications analyst with Chipotle, said in a response to the Lightning's inquiry. Chipotle employs an average of 25 individuals at its restaurants, all of which are company-owned, he said.

The general contractor, Dooleymack Constructors of Charleston, S.C., plans to start construction next week, Gerald Clark, of Dooleymack, said Wednesday. The dental office will take up 3,500 square feet while the Chipotle will be 2,427 square feet, according to the building permit application, which valued the building at $730,000.

Citing large increases in online orders, deliveries and drive-thru sales, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. reported strong financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2020. Year over year results included:
• Total revenue increase of 7.1 percent, $6.0 billion
• Comparable restaurant sales increase of 1.8 percent
• Digital sales growth of 174.1 percent, accounting for 46.2 percent of sales.

"We are pleased to report a strong ending to what has been a challenging year," Chairman/CEO Brian Niccol said in a news release. "Despite the difficult backdrop, our ability to pivot and adapt to the rapidly changing needs of our guests is a testament to the durability of our business model and the strength of our team members."

The company said about half the digital sales were via delivery, boosted by expanded partnerships, with the remainder coming from order-ahead transactions "as guests better understand the value offered by this channel," as well as the convenience of more drive-thrus, which the company calls Chipotlanes.

In 2020, the chain opened 161 new restaurants, including six relocations, and closed nine, bringing the total restaurant count on Dec. 31 to 2,768. Of the 161 new restaurants opened during the year, 100 included a Chipotlane, raising that to a total of 170 drive-thrus at year's end. Based in Newport Beach, California, the company premiered its first-ever Super Bowl ad on Sunday touting "Food with Integrity" standards that aim to reduce carbon emissions, save water, and support local growers.

Aspen Dental practices are independently owned and operated by licensed dentists. Aspen Dental Management Inc. provides administrative and business support services to the Aspen Dental-branded practices.