BELLINGHAM — A popular Mexican food chain has filed building permits to put in a casual restaurant in Bellis Fair.
Chipotle Mexican Grill filed a building permit with the city on Tuesday, Feb. 25, to put in a 2,536-square-foot restaurant in the former movie theater area of the mall. The Regal Bellis Fair Cinemas 6 closed Jan. 26.
According to the building permit plans, about $350,000 of remodeling will be done to build an enclosed a space for the restaurant. It will have 54 seats inside the area, with another 28 seats in a patio area.
Messages left with Chipotle's media department and Bellis Fair were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 26.
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It was unclear when Chipotle's might open.
The potential arrival of Chipotle to Bellingham has been highly anticipated by some. Bellingham resident Alishia Joubert said her husband, Pieter, was "over the moon" when he heard the news.
"He wanted to purchase a franchise and was disappointed when he found out they don't franchise," Alishia Joubert said, adding that he's been emailing the company asking officials to open a restaurant in Bellingham.
Chipotle was founded by Steve Ells in 1993 and is known for its stances on food. The company eliminated transfat frying in 2004 and uses only naturally raised chicken and pork. In 2009 Ells testified to Congress, attempting to eliminate the use of antibiotics in ranching.
Bellis Fair continues to make significant changes following its major remodel that was completed last fall. Along with Chipotle and the closure of the movie theater, clothing retailer H&M announced in January that it was opening a store, occupying about 19,000 square feet of space in the former Big 5 Sporting Goods space. Big 5 opened a new store on Meridian Street, near Walmart. The H&M store is expected to open later this spring or summer.
Tenant building permits have not yet been filed for the rest of the movie theater space. According to building plans submitted to the city, 10,765 square feet is designated for a retail store while 7,082 square feet is for another restaurant.