Biz Buzz: Chipotle opens Tuesday

Ascensus is consolidating its offices in east Brainerd

IMG_6033 (1).jpg
Chipotle Mexican Grill opens Tuesday, Nov. 19, on Edgewood Drive by Gander Outdoors in Baxter. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Chipotle Mexican Grill is opening Tuesday, Nov. 19, and is the second location in the state with a drive-thru, which the chain christened a “Chipotlane.”

The drive-thrus are something Chipotle plans to add across the country by the end of 2019. The restaurant also offers online ordering. For opening day in Baxter, the first 50 customers in line will receive Chipotle swag, the company reported.

The restaurant, open 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, is in the new development by Gander Outdoors on Edgewood Drive in Baxter and is expected to hire about 25 people. Chipotle reported it offers employees a bonus program with an opportunity to earn an extra month’s pay each year, access to health care, debt-free degree to an accredited university or tuition assistance of $5,250 per year to a school of the employee’s choice, free English as a second language classes and general education development (GED) classes for employees or family members who want to earn an equivalent of a high school diploma, discounts to fitness centers, among other offerings.

As of June, Chipotle had over 2,500 restaurants in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany and 80,000 employees. The restaurant chain started in 1993 with a single restaurant in Denver.

Ascensus is consolidating its footprint in east Brainerd. The company previously moved into two former retail centers, converting the space to office use years ago and creating a campus with buildings on either side of the Highway 25 and Highway 210 intersection. Now, Ascensus is leaving the former Pamida building and consolidating its workforce in its space in the East Brainerd Mall, in what was once the J.C. Penney store.


Steve Christenson, executive vice president at Ascensus, said the move is part of the company’s longer term strategic plan to move operations into the 415 Eighth Ave. NE location. The lease for the former Pamida, at 124 Eighth Ave. NE, will not be renewed.

“Above all else, I’d like to emphasize that Ascensus remains committed to Brainerd. Our more than 400 associates employed here play an important role in serving our clients and business partners, and are active members of this community,” Christenson said in a statement. “Our decision to consolidate our operations in one location promotes collaboration across associate teams, drives workspace efficiencies, and recognizes our growing use of flexible and remote work arrangements.”

In a phone interview, Christenson said flexible schedules and work from home are changes allowing the consolidation.

“I’d also like to point out that our updated workspace arrangement in Brainerd will not affect Baxter-based Goldleaf Partners -- which was recently acquired by Ascensus’ FuturePlan line of business -- in any way,” Christenson stated in the release. “FuturePlan is dedicated to keeping a local presence and sees opportunities for growth in this location. Goldleaf Partners’ clients can expect service continuity without interruption.”

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at
Related Topics: BIZ BUZZBAXTER
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
What To Read Next
Even if it's not a lucrative venture, the hobby of raising rabbits continues at this farm near Sebeka, Minnesota.
While traffic has roughly doubled since 2020 — the heart of the pandemic, when there were 14.9 million passengers — it’s still not at pre-pandemic levels: In 2019, there were 39.6 million passengers.
The Dispatch earned a total of 31 awards in the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest.
Louis and Cyril Keller are the inventors of the Bobcat skid-steer loader and were selected as 2023 inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.