Mexican Affairs

By Parker

A few yards from the pigeon waste covered sidewalk of the LIRR underpass, sits 2000 square feet of empty retail space. Why does this former WaMu branch sit empty? Is it the horrible economy, the Rodeo Drive-like rents, or, like people seeking love, the right retailer hasn’t met the right location yet. But the other day permits were spotted in the window – windows covered with that nondescript brown paper that hides a mystery and seductively whispers to passersby, “yes, something’s coming.”

Permits speak their own language – one understood by architects, contractors, and inspectors. Most of us don’t know an egress from an egret, or think HVAC is an ACDC cover band – we simply want to know what’s coming soon. On this permit, between building codes, license numbers and other jargon, I saw a glimpse of the future, “…renovation of existing bank into eating and drinking est.” Now, we’ve been down this road before. For every Martha’s Country Bakery, there’s a Twin Donut. For every Jade, a restaurant to impress your Queens-phobic friends, an equally unimpressive one opens.

Since patience isn’t one of my virtues, I made some calls and discovered that Continental Avenue’s newest arrival will be hot & spicy – we’re going Mexican!

“Mexican restaurant” is a bit too vague for my comfort but my sources were tight-lipped and wouldn’t reveal the name. Taco Bell is a restaurant, but probably a disappointment to anyone who isn’t a McDonald’s loitering, I-pod listening, cell phone texting teenager. With 5 Burros and Garcias covering the sit down, table service diners at opposite ends of Austin St., I don’t see this as another local mom & pop establishment. The only logical choice is one of the larger Mexican chains – Chipotle, Qdoba, Moe’s Southwest Grill, or Baja Fresh.

First, I went to their respective websites to confirm they could operate out of 2000 square feet – all four can. Second, I went to their company news section to see if they were announcing any new Queen’s locations – no insight available here. Third, I wanted to see what presence, if any, did these restaurants have in New York City. I thought any restaurant without a Manhattan location is less likely to open their first one in Queens. All four chains are new to the City with Chipotle arriving first in the early 2000’s and Baja Fresh only opening in May 2009.

From their respective websites:

Chipotle locations: Manhattan (28), Brooklyn Heights (1)
Qdoba Mexican Grill locations: Manhattan (7), Fresh Meadow, Queens (1)
Moe’s Southwest Grill locations: Manhattan (3, but 2 are in Penn Station), Rego Park, Queens (1) – coming soon
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill locations: Manhattan (2)

I must confess that I have never eaten at any of these establishments and my opinion is only based on visits to their websites. While all four would be a welcome addition, only one would move the needle significantly on the Forest Hills’ hipness quotient meter. Can one Mexican restaurant take us from Forest Hills hip replacement to Williamsburg hip? With a corporate philosophy of community building, earth-friendliness, sustainable building design, and vegan burrito options – Chipotle is the one!

Only time will tell. Let the chips (and salsa) fall where they may, and thankfully it’s not another bank or cell phone store.

  1. JCA
    August 27, 2010 at 7:43 AM

    …or another nail salon…

  2. August 27, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    WE NEED MORE T-MOBILE STORES.

  3. Paul
    August 27, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    Pesos para oro

  4. fitchy
    August 27, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    Jamba Juice!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: