Ashvegas commenter: Panera Bread, Salsaritas, Chipotle looking at downtown

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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An anonymous Ashvegas commenter says that Panera Bread, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina and Chipotle Mexican Grill are all looking at downtown space for lease in the old Windsor Hotel. The comment came on a recent Ashvegas post about several downtown business owners expressing concern about a new chain coming to town.

Downtown is already rife with chains. Mellow Mushroom, Urban Outfitters, Subway, Kilwin’s, and many more are already alive and kicking in downtown. Still, there’s a sense that some chains are better than others.

So, if this anonymous commenter is correct, how do folks feel about a Panera, Salsaritas or a Chipotle in downtown Ashvegas?

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. weavervilleman August 1, 2013

    Any “chain” that has roots in NC, no matter if its a local chain (like ingles) and a regional place like salsaritas and Brixx Pizza should be welcomed in Asheville.

    1. John August 16, 2013

      Salsarita’s may be based in Charlotte, just like Walmart is based in Arkansas. It’s mission is strip mall domination and to compete with other chains like Chipotle and Moe’s. It was a cooked up mall concept based on Moe’s. The orginal Salsarita’s started in mall food courts. It should not be confused or labeled “local” because it’s long term interests are definitely NOT LOCAL. LOCAL CHAIN = JUMBO SHRIMP = OXYMORON (emphasis on the MORON).

  2. weavervilleman August 1, 2013

    sasaritas is a cantina, and it is LOCAL. They are based in Charlotte.

  3. Sean D. September 12, 2012

    Saying that adding national chains to the downtown mix creates “economic diversity” is akin to saying that planting Bradford pear trees in the National Forest would create biodiversity.

    Growing up, I saw Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, VA ruined by greedy developers, corrupt city councils, and lazy citizens who refused to see what was happening. Of course, neither of these towns had a downtown then, and they still don’t. It’s just one strip mall after another. In Chesapeake they plunked a Super F*cking Walmart on land where the Battle of Great Bridge happened. Perhaps you’d like a side of hotel with your basilica?

    Don’t even think for a minute that Asheville is weird/historic/pretty/whatever enough for downtown to not become “the mall”.

  4. Adrian September 11, 2012

    People, on the whole, resist and fear change…even when they claim otherwise. Ashevile has survived Urban Outfitters, despite the huge uproar. Asheville’s brewing scene will survive (and I beleive benefit from) the presence of two, new and massive brewing operations in the area. We love to preach and celebrate diversity in human terms, but we fear and rail against diversity in economic terms. Open your eyes, people. Asheville has WAY too much character for a few chain restaurants ro retail store to “ruin” Downtown. Let’s learn to drop the paranoia and the navel-gazing, and embrace change and progress it will happen whether the teeming masses approve or not. Best to make peace and learn to change with the larger world around us as we all try to impart what small changes we each can.

  5. jj September 9, 2012

    Chattanooga seems to have the same problems…. its central downtown area is quite littered with chains. the (nicer) areas where there are no chains are much more like avl is today….go across the bridges into the northshore area and you’ll find the most lively areas…etc.

    Avl is unique and in that it is urban in terms of density, while still quite small in terms of space. A chain like panera will take up an inordinately larger footprint than if it was placed outside of downtown. So, yes, some chains are better than others in my opinion (though that is not quite what the previous poster was referring to.)

  6. Hk September 9, 2012

    Thank you for bringing up charleston. I remember the days ( the 90’s and early 2000’s) when one could go to a quaint cafe and shop at locally owned businesses. Asheville is absolutely facing the same fate if city planners and landlords don’t advocate for our community. We are at risk of losing what makes Asheville unique and charming.

  7. Sean D. September 8, 2012

    These types of national chains = the beginning of the end of downtown Asheville as anything other than an expensive Art Deco-rated mall. Why anyone would want this outcome is beyond me. I watched it happen in downtown Charleston as landlords raised rents, and only big chains could afford to be there. Locally-owned businesses were forced up King Street (and eventually out of downtown) while King Street below Calhoun became littered with Lucky Jeans, Baby Gap and similar overpriced crap you can find in Anytown USA.

    And regarding local businesses and “banker’s hours” – I understand somewhat the sentiment expressed by FDR. But being part of a community, and not just a shopper, is understanding that these business owners are your neighbors, with families and outside responsibilities.

    1. eric September 10, 2012

      Indeed. Many of these “mom and pop” stores are run by either mom or pop. Hours stack up pretty quick if you are open 10-6, seven days a week.

      Having said that, downtown stores are a bit short-sighted if they don’t have Sunday hours in the summertime. The streets are always crowded with the overflowing pockets of out of towners.

  8. indie September 6, 2012

    Love the writer’s comment that there’s a sense some change are better than others. Could I get a list of the good vs bad or is there some criteria by which that assessment is made?

    Are two outlets a chain if both are in Asheville? Does it matter if it is a franchise that is local owned and a big supporter of the local community, eg, Kilwins? How about if you open a second outlet elsewhere, but call it a different name, eg, Jack’s (Patton vs Weaverville)?

    If the gold standard is one off stores, “downtown” would fit on about a block or 2.

  9. Sarah September 6, 2012

    At least chipotle has ethical meat standards…

  10. FDR September 6, 2012

    Explain Home Free Bagels.

      1. FDR September 9, 2012

        Seems like a great idea to help people down and out, as long as the program is not wasted on transients and just people that legitimately need a hand.

        Do they meet all the health codes and are the employees tested or immunized for Hepatitis?

        Also, are they boiled first and baked, or just baked?

  11. FDR September 6, 2012

    Bring on the chains so the local businesses that are only open banking hours get with the program. Competition is good for business. Hey Asheville, if you want to run your own Mom and Pop shop then act like it by opening Sunday, Holidays and late a few nights a week. Can’t wait to walk downtown eating a real bagel from Panera or a burrito from Chipotle. How awesome would that be. Wooo Hoooo.

    Note: Bruegger’s is a long walk from downtown but they are the only place with real bagels close to downtown.

    1. Orbit DVD September 6, 2012

      Have you tried Home Free bagels? Yum.

  12. JJ September 6, 2012

    I think Tunnel Road would do well with all three of those places. NOT DOWNTOWN!

  13. Spell Check September 6, 2012

    Chipotle yes. Downtown no.

  14. ouch September 5, 2012

    dear god, i hate panera with a passion. please keep it far away. chipotle can suck it, too. i don’t know what the hell salsarita’s is.

  15. Lisa September 5, 2012

    we definitely need a chipotle!


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