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NEW YORK CITY-Colorado-based casual dining chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is about to make its presence felt in Manhattan. The McDonald’s-owned company has 210 stores nationwide, but none in New York. Now, McDonald’s officials say they’ll have 15 city stores online by the end of 2003.

According to Jeff Roseman, an executive vice president at Newmark New Spectrum Retail LLC, Chipotle is “coming East in a big way.” Newmark New Spectrum is representing Chipotle exclusively in New York.

Marc Frankel, McDonald’s real estate manager for the New York City area, tells GlobeSt.com Chipotle “has moved into accelerated development mode,” and adds that New York City–primarily Manhattan, though upscale outer-borough neighborhoods such as Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope are also under consideration–is a major target location for the brand. He notes that 15 Chipotle restaurants are expected to open in New York next year and that four leases are ready for signing.

“We’ve got several deals done and there are four leases out,” he says. “The deal terms are negotiated and the lawyers are running the meter. In our part of the world that means they’re done deals.”

Roseman tells GlobeSt.com that probable locations include “something in Midtown, right by Grand Central Station,” as well as a Downtown store in the World Financial Center. A St. Marks Place deal is also in the works and “we’re looking closely at something up by Columbia University,” Roseman says.

Initial lease signings are expected within 30 to 60 days. “We’re really moving very quickly,” Roseman adds. While existing Chipotle stores range in size from 1,800 to 2,800 sf, Manhattan stores will be smaller, around 1,500 sf.

A company spokesman calls Chipotle “a quick-service burrito joint,” but adds that a “very focused menu and high-quality ingredients,” as well as a unique dining environment featuring “stark, simple materials,” are the chain’s keys to success.

Oakbrook, IL-based McDonald’s bought a stake in Chipotle four years ago and now reportedly owns roughly 90% of the company. And while the Golden Arches may be a bit tarnished of late, lagging core sales are not dampening aggressive nationwide expansion plans for Chipotle. McDonald’s officials have recently stated that another 100-plus Chipotle outlets are expected to open within a year.

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