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Chipotle hosts invite-only party before formal opening

FARGO - The wait is over; the day has come. For many, the opening of Fargo's first Chipotle Mexican Grill - Monday at 1680 45th St. S.

Customers leave Chipotle on Sunday at 1680 45th St. S. in Fargo during the store’s pre-opening party before its formal opening today. Grace Lyden / The Forum

FARGO – The wait is over; the day has come.
For many, the opening of Fargo’s first Chipotle Mexican Grill – Monday at 1680 45th St. S. – has been years in the making.
“This is our third year, and we’ve been waiting this whole time,” said North Dakota State University junior Alexis Larson, who attended a soft opening of the fast-casual restaurant on Sunday.
She and her two friends, all NDSU juniors from the Twin Cities, were among the lucky few who received invites to a pre-opening party the day before Chipotle’s formal opening.
A “not quite yet” sign still hung on the door, but the restaurant was nearly packed at 3:30 p.m. with employees’ friends and friends of friends, savoring their usual orders.
“Double wrap, double rice, double meat, every time” said Jarod Westlund, 20, describing his mammoth steak burrito.
About 15 workers wearing the iconic black shirt bustled around an exposed kitchen, making guacamole and tortilla chips and various other items – but mostly burritos.
Originally set for this past July, the opening has been highly anticipated, despite the presence of similar
restaurants such as Pancheros Mexican Grill and Qdoba Mexican Grill, which has a location just a block from Chipotle.
Qdoba’s spokespeople did not return requests for comment on Sunday, but several Chipotle eaters thought there was potential for conflict due to that proximity.
“I think that a lot of people like Chipotle better than Qdoba, but they just settled for Qdoba before,” said Larson, 21, who called Chipotle “a healthier fast food alternative.”
Several attendees on Sunday had minor complaints – the line was slow, the burrito-rolling imperfect. But for the die-hard fans, the quality was there.
“Their guac is the best,” said Belinda Christianson, who attended the pre-opening with her daughter Amanda, also an NDSU junior. Amanda agreed.
“I kind of like how their food is more natural, but in all honesty, it’s really the guacamole.”

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