A Chipotle Mexican Grill has been approved as a stand-alone restaurant structure in front of Sears Appliance and Hardware on Bridgeport Avenue.

The 2,420-square-foot building will have an outdoor patio and be built where part of a parking lot for the small shopping complex is now located. The one-story structure will be in the northeast corner of the raised lot, near Bridgeport Avenue and the Hampton Inn.

The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) unanimously approved the food establishment at its Jan. 14 meeting.

“You should have brought samples,” joked P&Z member Jimmy Tickey, one of the six commissioners supporting the application by Connecticut Commercial Investors LLC, owners of the shopping complex.

Chipotle is a fast-growing casual restaurant chain specializing in burritos and tacos. It offers both eat-in and take-out food. Founded in Colorado in 1993, Chipotle now has 1,600 locations, including nearby ones in Milford, New Haven, Hamden, and Fairfield.

The owners of the shopping complex, which also includes a FedEx Office store and other retail outlets, had originally received permission for a new building about 25% larger than what will now be constructed.

Dominick Thomas, the applicant’s attorney, said the smaller structure is the “standard size” for Chipotle.

The location will put the "casual fast" dining establishment near many office buildings, including the Scinto Towers.

Parking and litter issues

The new building will result in the loss of 15 parking spaces, but Thomas said the parking lot in front of Sears Appliance and Hardware is never full, not even during the Christmas shopping season. “There’s more than sufficient shared parking,” he said.

Only one person spoke during a public hearing on the plan. Michael Marques, Hampton Inn general manager, asked about the impact on parking. The hotel now leases some spaces from the shopping complex owners.

Some P&Z members asked about the use of paper napkins and plates in the outdoor patio and the potential for litter problems.

Applicant representatives said trash hasn’t been a problem with patios at similar establishments, and the area will be regularly monitored and cleaned by Chipotle staff. The patio area will be defined and protected by large planters.

Chipotle is expected to be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The Shelton location will not have a drive-through window or serve any alcohol, according to the zoning applicant's representatives.