The general manager of the new Moe’s Southwest Grill location coming to Ohio State’s campus has a message for local burrito joints: “We’re coming to take over this market, period.”
The fast, casual restaurant chain, which features made-to-order foods like burritos, tacos, salads and quesadillas, is set to open its second location in the campus area at 2040 N. High St. on July 25.
Moe’s opened its first location near OSU March 7, at 1305 W. Lane Ave., about a mile past the Schottenstein Center. But with a new location opening on High Street, the company is looking to provide stiff competition to other Mexican-style eateries like Chipotle and Qdoba.
“I think they’re (Chipotle and Qdoba) worried about us because we have 14 upcoming openings within the city,” said Nathaniel Bates, general manger of the incoming Moe’s location on High Street.
He said the atmosphere is what will help Moe’s solidify its place.
“We have a much friendlier environment. We don’t have a ‘rush you through the line’ mentality and as long as the customer is happy, we’re happy,” Bates said.
Chipotle, at 1726 N. High St., and Qdoba, at 1956 N. High St., are both close to campus, though Qdoba is slightly closer to the new Moe’s location.
Moe’s will take the place of a former bar, Sloppy Donkey. The company acquired the space from former Sloppy Donkey owner Christopher Flores in the spring, Bates said.
Flores could not be reached for comment on the closure of the bar, which has changed names and purposes between the bar Sloppy Donkey and a Mexican restaurant called Las Maracas off and on since about last September.
Another burrito spot will also be opening near OSU’s campus this summer. Currito is scheduled to open its doors in mid-July at 1778 N. High St. and will be offering internationally themed burritos as well as smoothies and salads.
While Moe’s operates with confidence in its brand, some of the currently open Mexican grills in the area aren’t worried about the competition.
“I don’t think there will be any impact at all for a few reasons,” said Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold. “We’re fortunate to have very loyal customers who definitely keep coming back to our restaurants, and we work very hard to earn those visits.”
Although Bates said he thinks Moe’s can “take over the market,” Arnold said this will be difficult for the chain.
“Good luck,” Arnold said. “We have more than 100 stores in the greater Columbus area, so we have a pretty big presence.”
Representatives from Qdoba did not respond to requests for comment.
Bates said the team at Moe’s is currently working on some promotional deals for students during OSU football season and is looking to stay open late on weekends, especially game days.
Students will be able to watch OSU football games on TVs in the new Moe’s location while they eat their food, and they can also purchase their meals using BuckIDs, Bates said.
Jesse Neubauer, a fifth-year in art, said she thinks the addition of Moe’s to the other High Street burrito joints might be too much.
“Having three (burrito places) in close vicinity seems a little redundant but I guess we do that with fast food joints and Starbucks all the time,” Neubauer said.
Some other students think the variety will be a good thing.
“I think it’s good for OSU and the campus area because it gives students a chance to taste each restaurants style and compare them,” said Joe Balmert, a fourth-year in economics.
Balmert also said he thinks the newest Moe’s will keep restaurants like Qdoba and Chipotle on their toes.
“The new Moe’s will increase competition with Qdoba and Chipotle, so maybe they will respond with newer menu items or cheaper prices,” Balmert said.