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DENVER-Real estate owners with vacant space take note: Chipotle Mexican Grill’s expansion plans likely will include a greater percentage of existing space than previously, executives said at the company’s second quarter conference call.

With less new space being developed, Chipotle’s plans to maintain 2009 expansion plans of 120 to 130 new units in 2010 will necessitate looking at existing space, said Jack Hartung, CFO.

“A couple of years ago, 60% of our openings were in new development spaces. Now, that likely will fall below 50%,” Hartung said. “We’re beholden to the developer. Space is being delivered to us later.”

Existing space is more expensive, as kitchens and other areas must be redone, but the company still expects to open “thousands” of new restaurants, Hartung said. Chipotle opened 24 new restaurants during the second quarter and 50 new units during the first half.

For the quarter, sales were $388.8 million, up 14.1% from the same quarter last year. Comparable restaurant sales increased 1.7%. Net income was $35.4 million, up 44.7% from the prior-year quarter.

For the first half, revenues were $743.3 million, up 15.0% from last year. Comp sales rose 1.9%. Net income was $60.8 million, an increase of 45.6% over the first half of last year.

As of June 30, Chipotle operated 886 restaurants.

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