2 new retailers coming to region

Fast-food chain plans as many as 12 outlets

jewelry giant to open


May 27, 1999|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS -- Fast-growing restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is bringing its gourmet fast-food concept to Baltimore, where it plans as many as a dozen restaurants as it expands into the Baltimore-Washington region, officials of the Dallas company said.

In addition, a jewelry super store plans to open its first Baltimore area store in Towson this summer. A new furniture retailer also will begin constructing a large showroom in Hagerstown.

Chipotle, with 24 restaurants in Denver, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio, will move into the Washington market first, where it is close to obtaining several sites, said Rex Jones, director of real estate.

Company officials will start looking for urban and suburban spots in the Baltimore area in the next few months, representatives said yesterday during the annual International Council of Shopping Centers convention of retailers, developers and brokers. The first restaurant could open by the middle of next year, Jones said.

Baltimore is likely to be as strong a market for Chipotle as Denver, where the chain opened 18 stores over five years and is still growing, Jones said. The area has similar demographics, but a tight real estate market in Baltimore will likely keep the expansion to a slower pace, he said.

"We know it's going to be a very prosperous market," Jones said.

In the Washington market, Chipotle is considering sites in Bethesda, Dupont Circle and Tysons Corner, Jones said.

The chain often redevelops sites for its contemporary looking restaurants, where customers can customize burritos, fajitas and tacos with ingredients such as freshly made guacamole and tortilla chips.

Steven Ells, Chipotle chief executive officer and a Culinary Institute of America graduate, started the company in 1993 in Denver with a single restaurant, creating his own recipes.

About a year ago, McDonald's Corp. became a minority investor, fueling the current drive to open stores in Phoenix; Colorado Springs, Co.; Dallas; Austin, Texas; Chicago, Cleveland and San Francisco by the end of the year.

Also coming to Baltimore is Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, a "category killer" jewelry super store division of Sterling Jewelers Inc.

The Home Co. of Dallas also is opening a furniture outlet in Hagerstown.

Sterling, the second-largest specialty jewelry retailer with $1.56 billion in sales and parent company of Kay Jewelers and Shaw's, will open a freestanding, 5,800-square-foot super store in Towson Market Place on Goucher Boulevard in August.

Sterling, which opened the first Jared in Akron, Ohio, in 1997 and now has 15, plans as many as four stores in the Baltimore area and is looking at sites in White Marsh, Columbia and Annapolis, said Mark Light, executive vice president of operations.

The move into the Baltimore area is part of a national expansion that aims to open about 200 Jared stores over the next decade. Fifteen will open this year, the first of those being the Towson store.

"One of the best growth vehicles for our company is Jared," Light said. "When people shop for jewelry they need a selection. No one was doing a category concept for jewelry. We saw a niche for ourselves."

The stores, which typically carry higher priced jewelry than mall stores and five times more inventory, feature a diamond department, a watch department, a customer jewelry lab, a refreshment center and a supervised children's play area.

The Home Co., a new retailer, will begin opening 65,000-square-foot furniture outlets at Prime Retail outlet centers, said Abraham Rosenthal, chief executive officer of Prime, a Baltimore company.

The Home Co. will open its first furniture outlet in Prime Outlets at San Marcos, Texas, between Austin and San Antonio, and its second at Prime Outlets Hagerstown, Rosenthal said.

The stores will have 65,000 square feet with additional space of up to 50,000 square feet for smaller home-furnishings tenants. The Home Co. will sell brands such as Henredon and Baker at discount prices.

Construction will start this summer on the Hagerstown outlet as well as on an additional 100,000 square feet for more stores. The expansion should be completed by the first quarter of next year.

"We want to be able to provide the consuming public the ability to shop for home furnishing in their area rather than having to go to North Carolina," Rosenthal said.

Pub Date: 5/27/99

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