The Tasty Truth of Chipotle


Have you ever wondered how Chipotle is now getting millions of dollars of profits every day?  Well, I’m here to tell you. Steve Ells, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, dreamed of opening a restaurant, but ran into the problem most restaurant owners face: a lack of funds. In 1993, he opened Chipotle as a way to make money to fund his other restaurant. The idea took off, and Chipotle, with its foil-wrapped burritos, expanded to over $826 million dollars and over 37,000 employees.  At twenty-eight, Ells started Chipotle to create the restaurant that he had dreamed of. The restaurant quickly became a fad with its fast, delicious food.  Chipotle was almost an immediate hit and began getting lots of profits within months of opening the first restaurant. The company has been able to maintain a profit around 35.9% per year(that’s a lot of extra cash!) When Chipotle finally opened its first restaurant in 1993, the idea was simple: show that food served fast didn’t have to be a “fast-food” experience using not fresh ingredients. Using high-quality ingredients, they make their food taste wonderful. They want the very best ingredients they can get.  

Chipotle is an American chain of fast casual restaurants in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and France, specializing in tacos and burritos. Its name comes from chipotle, the Nahuatl name for a smoked and dried jalapeño chili pepper.  The dictionary defines Chipotle as a smoked hot chili pepper used especially in Mexican cooking.  Chipotle serves more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant chain. Chipotle is one of the first chains of fast casual dining restaurants. Steve Ells says, ”We decided long ago that we didn’t want Chipotle’s success to be tied to the exploitation of animals, farmers, or the environment, but the engagement of our customers.” Founded by Steve Ells in July 1993, Chipotle had sixteen restaurants that were all in Colorado. With now more than 2,000 locations, Chipotle is a very wealthy company, how wealthy you say, try $475.6 million dollars, and a staff of more than 45,000 employees in 2015. According to an article in The Motley Fool, “Chipotle had about 17 locations outside of the USA by October 2014 with most of them in Canada.”  Some fun facts about Chipotle that you probably didn’t know is that Chipotle uses 100,000 avocadoes per day (because

everyone love guacamole!). They also have a very strict hiring process, according to Ells, employees must be “polite, hospitable, smart, ambitious, curious, happy, respectful, honest, presentable, conscientious, motivated, infectiously enthusiastic, and have high energy.” Judging by all of the Chipotles I have been to, Chipotle does a really good job of finding employees who not only meet those qualifications, but really want to be there. Some other fun facts about this restaurant include that every month, DJ Christopher Golub creates a 500-song playlist that gets played through the sound system at every single location, and Bruce Gueswel was one of Ells’ old college friends, and he designed every table, and chair in every location, even the first Chipotle!  Also, There’s a secret menu, what’s on it, i can’t say!!   I also have a small tradition, whenever i have tech week for a show, i always go to chipotle of dinner because it’s filling and delicious.  My favorite thing to get at Chipotle is a veggie bowl with rice, beans, corn sour cream, cheese, and guacamole. 



One thing that makes Chipotle different is there serving style. Though it seems like the weird cafeteria style that seems like it shouldn’t work, it has actually worked out pretty well for Chipotle. One reason that i like Chipotle’s serving style is that you can see how much or how little food they put on your burrito, bowl, or taco, then you can ask for more if you think they did not put enough! But one thing that seems to be a negative side to it is the drawback in the line. For instance, my mom does not want to wait in a long if it’s too long. Through the line is a little longer because of their serving style, Chipotle still seems to do very well.

At first Ells estimated that he’d need to sell about 100 burritos per day to be profitable, but after a month, he was selling more than 1,000! But Chipotle would never have gotten to where it is now without an investment from an unlikely source.  In 1998, McDonald’s made its first investment in the company, and by 2001 it was a majority shareholder. There were sixteen locations in 1998, and by 2005 there were more than 500. McDonald’s invested about $360 million into Chipotle in total, and when it divested itself in 2006 (as part of a larger effort to divest itself from all “non-core business restaurants”), its investment had grown to about $1.5 billion.

Chipotle has also had many great achievements.  In a list of fastest-growing restaurant chains in 2009, Chipotle was ranked eighth, based on increases in U.S. sales over the past year, and in 2010 Chipotle was ranked third. Consumer Reports ranked Chipotle as the best Mexican fast-food chain in 2011. The company serves approximately 750,000 customers per day.   In December 2010, Chipotle hired chef Nate Appleman to develop new food for the restaurant. Appleman has won Rising Star Chef and was named “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine magazine, and competed on The Next Iron Chef. In 2011, Steve Ells was a judge for the TV show America’s Next Great Restaurant and investor of ANGR Holdings, the company that will be running the winning concept’s restaurants.

Chipotle is also very popular among the students and teachers of Hermosa Valley. Vivi, a 7th grade student at hermosa valley school says, “Chipotle is a very cool restaurant that has very yummy foods. I would recommend their food, especially their burritos, which are my favorite thing to get there. Another thing I do at Chipotle is reading the words on the bags and stuff because it is interesting. On my last quest to this esteemed establishment, I read a fascinating article about how they make guacamole at Chipotle.”  Even my teacher likes Chipotle. “It is great,” says Mr. Coleman.  But who would think that even though a lot of people think Chipotle is a great restaurant, such as Vivi, and Mr Coleman,  people did not always feel that way? Steve Ells said “So many people told me it was not a good idea to a start a restaurant, especially a fast-food restaurant. There was so much wrong with it; it was too spicy; everything was done by hand, from scratch. Everything

was wrong. But that’s why customers liked it; it’s different, in the right way. If you have an idea, just go for it. If everybody is telling you that it’s wrong, maybe that’s an indication that it’s an original idea.”

Some predictions of the future of Chipotle are, Chipotle may change and expand their menu. This is a very un-Chipotle like move as their menu has barely changed since the late 1990’s. One way this may help Chipotle is new menu items can bring more customers into the store and potentially create more frequent customers if the menu items are good. Desserts are also in testing. But one thing that would not be good if Chipotle changed their menu is Chipotle is built on simple recipes that everyone loves, so changing the iconic menu could change people’s opinion about the restaurant. Another thing Chipotle might do in the future is Chipotle is working on a mobile app that handles online ordering and ordering in the store.  I feel Chipotle is a great restaurant, and i hope it stays that way for a long time.