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New Crew at the Ballston Chipotle?

by ARLnow.com April 28, 2011 at 10:06 am 4,421 65 Comments

One thing’s clear: Chipotle has been doing a lot of hiring lately.

This month alone, the restaurant chain has held ‘open house’ hiring events in Ballston, Rosslyn, Falls Church, Seven Corners, Reston, Sterling, Herndon and Ashburn.

Why the sudden hiring push?

A Chipotle spokesperson told us that they’re “in an industry where turnover is high.” But recent news reports suggest something else may be going on.

“The feds are cracking down on undocumented workers at Chipotle restaurants in Virginia and the District,” TBD reported last month. “After the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reportedly warned Chipotle it would be targeted… the Chipotles in Columbia Heights and Woodley Park fired 40 employees who could not prove they were legally authorized to work.”

No such mass firings have been publicly reported in Virginia, but one local says there are a lot of unfamiliar faces among the crew at the Ballston Chipotle (4300 Wilson Blvd).

“I’ve been going there for 5+ years and literally most of the same people worked there till a few weeks ago,” Chipotle regular Jamie Cave told ARLnow.com. “When I went in the other night, it was a whole new crew and barely any Hispanic workers (mostly white or Indian). Others have been mentioning that they don’t recognize most of the workers there now.”

A visit to the Ballston Chipotle last night confirmed that, at the very least, the location is understaffed. The line for a burrito around 7:30 p.m. extended nearly out the door.

Chris Arnold, the Chipotle spokesperson, confirmed the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement investigation into the restaurant’s hiring practices in the Washington area, but denied that there has been a mass exodus of employees.

“Early this year, we received a Notice of Inspection from Immigration and Customs Enforcement for about 60 restaurants in the Virginia and Washington, D.C. areas, and we are cooperating with them as they conduct their review,” Arnold said. “As we reported, we are also working with the U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., which has asked us to provide them with certain documents for a review they are conducting.”

He added: “We haven’t seen abnormally high turnover… Bear in mind, we don’t always know the reasons people choose to leave their jobs.”

  • CrystalMikey

    The Crystal City location has a “Now Hiring” sign outside as well. The ICE sting was the first thing I thought of too.

  • Anon

    I wouldn’t necessarily say they were understaffed, the line has been long before at nearly any hour at that location even if they are fully staffed. Nearly out the door is pretty standard there. A long line wraps around half the interior of the restaurant.

    • John Goilios

      Agreed. The line here is always long.

      • Josh S

        I visited a couple of weeks ago, noticed the new faces and also noticed that the new folks were terrible. My friend tried to ask a simple question about the menu which the person couldn’t understand (my guess is she was from Eastern Europe). She totally messed up my burrito – it was the only time I’ve ever gone to a Chipotle and thought the food was gross.
        Legal, illegal, foreign, native – just get competent.

        • KalashniKEV

          I’ll take a legally immigrated Eastern European girl over your typical Criminal Alien any day!

          Ya o4en loobloo!!!

  • V Dizzle

    Trying to think of how to work “Chipotl-away” into a sentence.

  • NJMetsfan

    Hmm weird. Someone impersonating again. Who would of thought this?

    • GoMets

      How could I be impersonating when I’ve been using this screen name for about a year? You aren’t the only person who likes the Mets.

      • NJMetsfan

        Its other things my friend, its other things. 😉

      • ArlForester

        To be fair, even a Mets fan is surprised when they see a Mets fan.

  • kc

    Baja Fresh in Rosslyn also has a sign out that they are hiring.

    • Aaron

      Management there is horrific. They hire such pleasant cashiers and kitchen staff but can’t ever seem to keep them.

      Meanwhile, the Rosslyn Chipotle across the street has always had a diverse crew, including whites and south Asians at times. There’s continuity of staff but only a handful that have stuck around more than two or three years. Are people really observing something new or are folks projecting based on news reports?

      I’ll say again, I might be opposed to illegal immigration in general, but if there’s an exception to be made, it should be for individuals willing to put tasty food in my belly for submarket wages and minimal benefits!

  • Southeast Jerome

    Funny you mention this – I noticed the staff changes as well and had been wondering.

  • FREDTERP

    Where are all the folks you hear on NPR that confess that they “even applied” for fast food jobs. FREDTERP

    • KalashniKEV

      NPR = LIES

      • dynaroo

        A U. of Md. study tested knowledge about the Iraq war a few years back. The best-informed people were NPR listeners. The worst were Fox News viewers.

        You’re welcome to list an alleged lie from NPR if you like. Most likely, you don’t like them because of your own biases, and your own lack of knowledge.

        • NPGMBR

          Thank YOU

        • KalashniKEV

          Have you ever paid attention to their coverage of the TEA party? What about Obama’s birth certificate? Did you see them get caught red handed in George O’Keefe’s latest operation? They regularly air “Global Warming” segments as if they are based on actual science. It’s extremely biased news, basically a propaganda arm of the leftists…

          • dynaroo

            Name a “lie” you heard on NPR. What was the lie, and how do you know it’s not true?

            Then we’ll move on to compare to other news outlets, especially the one that lies daily.

          • KalashniKEV

            I’m not going to let you cite Fox’s lies against NPR’s in some silly pissing match. It’s every bit as ridiculous as “Fair and Balanced” for NPR to say “Polite Civil Discourse” when you turn it on and hear them use crude sexual imagery against political views they don’t agree with, or worse blindly throw race cards at anything that challenges their leftist position.

            As for the JAMES O’Keefe piece (sorry- you know who I was thinking about) I found it entertaining to 1) see the true colors we all knew were behind the NPR execs 2) watch them *further* degrade themselves and accept anti-semitic remarks in pursuit of what they believed was a payout to further their agenda.

          • dynaroo

            If you can’t defend your claims, don’t make them.

            No media outlets are perfect. NPR is very professional and mostly fair. And the one many of its critics like, Fox, is one of the worst in modern history.

          • KalashniKEV

            I never said Fox wasn’t worse, but NPR is not professional.

          • Please limit discussion to issues covered in the article.

          • dynaroo

            NPR also routinely lies about Bigfoot, aliens, and the Loch Ness monster.

          • dynaroo

            “George” O’Keefe – in a post complaining about media accuracy!

        • PghBigDog

          TRIPLE thank-you.

    • V Dizzle

      Steve Holt!

      • Rick

        +1

  • KalashniKEV

    This is great news! I seldom tip for counterservice, but I would def do a dollar in the jar if I knew the immigrant food service worker was “doing it legit.”

    • DC123

      I know this must sound like a CRAZY concept, since you don’t seem to have very much reason at all, but… shouldn’t you tip because they’re doing a good job rather than because of their legal status?

      • KalashniKEV

        Do you make no moral distinction between those who immigrate legally and do it the right way, and someone who invades, placing themselves and their families at risk? Have you no common sense? A sticker in the window of certain businesses that are certified “CRIMINAL FREE LABOR” would go a long way towards identifying businesses with basic ethical standards.

        • dynaroo

          So you don’ tip them – but you still eat there.

          If you really believed this, you wouldn’t be patronizing any restaurants or businesses you suspect might be using illegals. You bash them, yet you eagerly consume their food and give them your money.

          • KalashniKEV

            If I had evidence that a business had unethical practices, then I wouldn’t eat there. Do you think it would be out of line for me to ask the cashier to see her green card? I mean… it recently took quite a long time to verify the legal status of a much more important American. 😉

          • dynaroo

            Yet you said you do just that when deciding whether to tip.

        • DC123

          For someone who loves to preach about moral superiority, you sure don’t sound like someone who has any morals.

          Anyhow, the question was about tipping and what it’s purpose is for. I didn’t realize tipping = legal residency.

          • KalashniKEV

            Plenty of people here complain and even talk boycott when businesses don’t pay their county taxes (at extortionary rates, I might add). I’m simply saying that I wouldn’t tip a person if I happened to know that they were in the act of committing a crime. Have some sense.

  • LyonSteve

    So Chiptole has been using illegal-immigrant labor? Where are the criminal penalties for both the employer and employee. I seem to recall that both the employee and employer must sign under penalty of perjury that they are authorized to work in the United States.

  • Rebecca

    Holy smokes. How many times a week/day are you chowing down on a burrito that you recognize the staff has changes? FATTIES.

    • PhilL

      +10 (lbs)

      • MC 703

        -6 (years off of life expectancy)

    • Josh S

      Ah, the self-absorbed youth…I remember those days.

      If you got your head out of your iPhone occasionally, you’d notice there are other real people that occupy space around you. Really, it only takes one visit to remember a face, if you’re paying attention….

      • Rebecca

        So josh… do you remember the face of the cab driver that last picked you up? How about the face of the flight attendant your last airplane ride? Just admit you love your sour cream and rice that you go there enough to remember each person’s face.

        • Andrew

          A couple of years ago there was a pizza place I used to go to once a month or so, and I definitely remember the people who worked and what they look like.

    • Loves to Lunch

      I choose Chippie for lunch once a week. The staff is always friendly and they often remember my order. I would definately notice if I see all new faces when I go there.

      Of course this requires seeing the folks preparing my order as people, not servants.

    • James

      Rebecca,

      Some of us actually have really good memories and actually acknowledge people that fix our food/serve us. We’re not self-absorbed individuals who just go through life not noticing people (nor their faces or voices).

      I visit that Chipotle 1-2 times a month and have been for the last 5 years. Same people literally worked there every time I went for those 5 years…they knew my order even only going there a few times a month. A few weeks ago, it was like going into a new restaurant…all new faces, management, etc.

      In terms of the Chipotles in the area, I’ve noticed all of them have ‘Now Hiring’ signs in front of them (Crystal City, Ballston, Seven Corners). I havent been down to the Rosslyn one..anyone know if they have one in front of it?

      I don’t believe the spokesman one bit…you don’t go something like 5+ years in this area and never see a NOW HIRING sign and all of a sudden every Chipotle has NOW HIRING signs in front of it…so obviously something happened with ICE.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the McDonalds get hit next…some of the crew at Chipotle also worked at the McDonald’s on Wilson and also on Lee.

      I agree with the poster above that said that Chipotle should be fined for supporting an illegal workforce. Many of these individuals are purchasing stolen SS numbers which is a crime in itself.

      • V Dizzle

        So you’re saying you aren’t that fat?

        • Andrew

          Maybe he runs a lot?

        • Anon

          You can order just one or two tacos, without cheese, and have a pretty filling low calorie meal at Chipotle.

          • V Dizzle

            Sure, I’ll believe it once I see your papers!

  • KG

    There was one girl that used worked there and always had the biggest smile on her face… she will be missed.

  • Ballstonian

    These random crackdowns on illegals is ridiculous. I forgot the last count but isn’t it like 30 million illegals live here in the US? Why even enforce it anymore, it’s not like we’re going to round them all up and ship them back?

    Let’s just bring back manifest destiny. End Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya (who cares anyway these days, they’re giant sinkholes of federal dollars), focus on marching south to Columbia, Wouldn’t it be awesome to have new coastal property to buy? While we’re at it, maybe take Cuba too and finish where we left off in 1898.

    • PhilL

      I think the crackdowns are designed to put pressure on employers, who are part of the enabling network that allows illegal immigrants to subsist without becoming legal. There were similar raids on some construction companies a few years back.

      • Aaron

        Subsist is a good word choice.

    • “Why even enforce it anymore”. Really? You are kidding me? Gosh, speeding happens all the time. Why even enforce it any more? Drunk driving happens all the time. Why even enforce it anymore? A burglary happens every 15 seconds in this country so why even enforce it anymore?

      I vote this the stupid statement of the day. The law is the law and it should be enforced. If you don’t like the law, lobby to have it changed and not ignored.

      • Ballstonian

        Since your’e so keen on enforcement, we should enforce golf rules, and every time you run a red light, speed, you have to enforce a ticket on yourself. Just saying illegals are here to stay unless we want to open up some holding camps and start rounding them up. I was just making a point that illegal immigration will continue to happen, no matter how big of a fence we build or border security etc. It’s a losing proposition. At least with drunk driving, speeding, etc. there are tangible consequences to breaking those laws. So what if you get deported back to Mexico, save up some money and try again in a month across the 1500 mile border. Just saying it’s a waste of resources.

        • KalashniKEV

          “Illegals are here to stay…”

          Did you even read the article? Illegals are on their way OUT.

        • Eveil

          “we should enforce golf rules”… seriously dude! You’re going to compare the enforcement of a hobby/sport to that of criminal offenses!
          In that case then I’m going to enforce ridiculous comments from being made on this site and ask that you refrain from speaking. Here’s your 1year sitation.

          • Eveil

            *citation

          • Arlwhenever

            In socialist nirvana Sweden you actually need a green card to play golf — study, be tested on and play by the rules or off with your head (of your 3 wood at least).

        • There are tangible consequences to being illegal in this country. That is deportation. You will get rounded up when you are making a burrito and find yourself right back on the wrong side of the Rio Grande. Make the effort to be legal, and you will be welcome with open arms and won’t have to look over your back forever. Being an illegal is like being a fugitive from the law. In fact, it is EXACTLY the same.

    • ArlForester

      Yeah, there’s no irony in your whining that the U.S. takes land that isn’t theirs yet you have no issue with illegals essentially doing the exact same thing HERE.

  • The Dope of South Arlington

    They will have to raise their prices now that they can’t pay sub-standard wages.

  • Diane

    Went to Ballston last week. Horrible staff, horrible service. Never will go back…

  • Carol_R

    Chipotle’s used to have good service. I guess that is gone now. I don’t see Americans willing to take those jobs and do them well.

    When I was a kid, teenagers typically worked at fast food places since it didn’t pay that well and didn’t require a lot of experience. You rarely see teenagers at those jobs these days since they expect to earn more if they do work at all. Maybe they can find some legal immigrants but it’s ironic that despite the unemployment that Americans aren’t willing to take those jobs.

  • PhilL
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