Following a presentation by 32BJ SEIU at the December meeting of the District 24 Community Education Council (CEC24), Queens Community Board 4 held a meeting Tuesday evening to review the chain’s request for a license to sell alcohol at 88-01 Queens Boulevard.
The new location would be one of three Chipotles in the area, including one inside the neighboring Queens Center Mall food court that does not sell booze and another nearby at 51-35 Junction Blvd, which possesses a liquor license that will expire this year.
Concerns regarding the liquor license are twofold.
According to the Piper Jaffray “Taking Stock with Teens” survey for 2019, Chipotle ranks as the third most popular restaurant among adolescents polled in 47 U.S. states.
With the Queens Place Mall being a popular hangout spot for teenagers from the surrounding neighborhood and beyond, parents and educators worry about underage youngsters getting their hands on alcohol.
“Chipotle is a company that disproportionately employs teenagers and markets to them,” wrote CEC24 President Lucy Accardo in a statement. “I oppose their application to sell alcohol in Queens Place Mall, which is within 3,000 feet of 10 different New York City schools.
“We can all agree that underage students shouldn’t hang out at bars after school,” she continued. “We should also agree that fast food restaurants with marketing that specifically targets teenagers should not sell alcohol.”
The other side to opposition stems from Chipotle’s notorious reputation for being understaffed and an irresponsible employer.
“Workers have filed complaints alleging violations of the City’s Fair Workweek Law at almost half of Chipotle’s 80-plus stores in New York City, and the city is suing Chipotle for over $1 million in restitution for workers,” read a statement from 32BJ SEIU president Kyle Bragg. “A liquor license is a privilege and we don’t think it should be given to employers like Chipotle that are mistreating workers and refusing to follow the law.”
His sentiments are echoed by Councilman Francisco Moya, who represents a district bordering Queens Place Mall. Moya says he submitted a letter to the State Liquor Authority urging members to vote against granting Chipotle a license.
“A liquor license is a privilege and it shouldn’t be granted to companies that are creating bad jobs in our communities,” the councilman asserted. “The people who work there are our relatives, our friends, members of our community who are being abused.”
Chipotle did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.