H-SANTA MARIA

Mar 28, 2012 10:24 PM by Nikki Ibarra

Local Mexican restaurants say Chipotle is no competition

When Chipotle recently went looking to hire staff for 30 positions for their new restaurant in Santa Maria, about 1,000 people applied to work there.

A couple of the people who managed to get jobs lived at local homeless shelters.

The national chain officially opened their first Santa Maria restaurant Wednesday.

People lined up outside Chipotle Wednesday morning, just to be some of the first to enjoy.

"I just finished my burrito. It took me like, maybe, 6, 7 minutes. I'm stuffed but it was all worth it," said Daniel Valadez of Santa Maria. Before the Betteravia location opened, Valadez used to drive all the way to Santa Barbara just to get his Chipotle fix.

Valadez is not the only one excited about the opening. In fact, some local Mexican restaurants are also joining in. Mostly because it means more business for them.

"It makes everybody else step up their standards, and a good competition is good," said Jason Ontiveros of Casa Manana on South Broadway.

Casa Manana has been open since 1964. They don't think of Chipotle as competition because they don't serve, what they call, "fast meals". "It's an assembly line. Places like that, they're fast; in and out," said Ontiveros.

But Chipotle isn't afraid of the local mom-and-pop restaurants. In fact, they don't see them as competition, either.

"In the spirit of friendly competition, I'm very happy that we're around as many different businesses as we are, because that's just going to invite more people onto our door step," said Mark Mishalanie, general manager of Chipotle.

And Tortilleria Mexico, which is only a few steps from Chipotle on Betteravia, feels the exact same way.

"It will cool down. They'll come here. I mean, we've also had new customers here that I have never seen before," said Sandra Casillas of Tortilleria Mexico.

They consider themselves more authentic and affordable, making their own flour and corn tortillas daily. With Chipotle here, they're just looking forward to the new customers they'll be getting.

"It's getting better, and it's good. It's good for everybody," added Casillas.

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