Chipotle coming soon to Forbes

The former Panther Hollow Inn, at 4611 Forbes Ave., is scheduled to be replaced by a Chipotle Mexican Grill on Jan. 1.  (credit: Abhinav Gautam/) The former Panther Hollow Inn, at 4611 Forbes Ave., is scheduled to be replaced by a Chipotle Mexican Grill on Jan. 1. (credit: Abhinav Gautam/)

Although many students grieved at the loss of the Panther Hollow Inn, a local bar, over the summer, they may now have something else to look forward to: Winthorpe Valentine, LP, which bought 4611 Forbes Ave. after it was sold last year, has filed plans with the Department of City Planning to put a Chipotle Mexican Grill in the former bar’s location.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, which last year celebrated its 25-year anniversary, serves a variety of Mexican-inspired foods, including tacos and burritos.

It was announced in May 2013 that Panther Hollow Inn, known by most students as PHI, would close after the end of the spring 2014 semester. Winthorpe Valentine, LP bought the PHI property in June 2014 for $850,000; the bar closed for the last time in the early hours of June 1.

When it was announced that PHI was closing last year, The Tartan reported, students mourned the loss of what then-Student Body President Will Weiner (DC ‘13) called “one of the few unique CMU hangout spots.”

Within days, students had garnered 750 signatures on a petition to keep PHI open.

Some students, however, welcome the change.

“I’m all for it,” said Jamie Rupert, a senior decision science major. “The only thing is that PHI was small. I hope they’re planning to add more space.”

According to the filed plans, the restaurant will open for business on Jan. 1, 2015, after a period of construction that began over a month ago, on Aug. 1. The plans include a new second floor area, part of a 725-square-foot addition to the space, and various renovations to the walls, floor, and bathroom of the building.

Other students are more ambivalent.

“There’s already a Chipotle 30 seconds from my house, so it doesn’t really matter for me,” said Brian Lee, a junior economics and statistics major.

Vira Shao, a junior Chinese studies and psychology double major, had her doubts about the upcoming Chipotle. “I’m happy I don’t have to walk all the way down to Chipotle, but I’m pretty ambivalent,” Shao said. “Here’s one thing: I think that from a business standpoint, they’re making a very poor choice. Because yes, that Chipotle will recoup a lot of money really, really quickly, but alcohol sells more. And they’re going to have to renovate the hell out of that place because it’s a franchise. You can’t just have Chipotle food in a PHI-esque bar; it doesn’t work like that.”

Jeremy Applebaum, a junior chemistry major, although he said he, too, was ambivalent on the issue, hesitated to embrace the new Chipotle.

“It’s just going to encourage CMU students to be really lazy and never leave the area. At least encourage them to walk five minutes down Forbes to get Chipotle,” Applebaum said.

The Chipotle at 4611 Forbes will join several other locations, including one in Oakland at 3619 Forbes Ave., another in East Liberty at 5986 Centre Ave., and one in Shadyside at 4800 Baum Blvd.