Why the Chipotle Brand is about more than Burritos

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is a company that I have been following for the last few years. I originally was fascinated with the founder, Steve Ells, and his story in creating the restaurant. He was a culinary expert who wanted to use his Chipotle concept as a stepping stone to later create a “fine dining restaurant”. However, he had so much success with the initial stores that he fell in love with what he had already created in the Chipotle brand. This entrepreneurial journey caught my attention and led me into the stores to establish my own experience.

A few burritos and bowls later, the main reason that I fell in love with the brand is the food. I absolute adore my regular order “a bowl, brown rice, black beans, fajitas, chicken, medium and mild salsa, corn, and lettuce.” I have been getting this consistently once every few weeks for a few years now. The food is fresh with organic ingredients and naturally raised meats. As advertised they prepare simple ingredients, using classic cooking techniques without adding sugars, sweeteners, or artificial flavors. The brand quality matches its marketing “food with integrity”.

Over the last few months the company has caught my attention again for a different reason. They have been battered by an E. coli outbreak that has forced Chipotle to close stores in 9 states. E. Coli strains can cause serious food poisoning if consumed from a contaminated food product. An unexpected twist for a company that focuses so much on their quality of food.

This led me to think, will people stop going to Chipotle? Should I stop going to Chipotle?

I visited my local store to find out and what I found was incredible.

Not only were people still taking advantage of this fast casual dining experience, but the line was out the door.

The reason, not only does Chipotle care about the quality of their food, but also the quality of their diner’s experience. I believe that Chipotle will take the measures necessary to resolve their E. Coli issues in a timely manner. They have already closed stores where an outbreak was evident and updated their processes to prevent future instances. They will continue to work on their core mission, to create food with integrity, while still keeping their diner’s experience in mind.

It is in the various dining situations that the opportunity for Chipotle truly exists. The company provides a social experience for various demographics, nationalities and genders. They have a fast dining experience servicing lunch and dinner to their communities. By providing quality food, with the focus on that food, they have created their own culture. A culture that fits the needs of coworkers looking for a lunch, a couple going on a dinner date, students reviewing their homework project together, gym buddies fueling up after the gym, a business mentor taking an intern out, families traveling with kids, two friends grabbing a drink, and much more. Chipotle allows for a personalized experience with a simple quick setting environment.

Chipotle has become a phenomenon. As an entrepreneur, and business minded person I appreciate the simple décor and emphasis on quality of its main product. I admire their customer following, and their actions doing something that will directly hurt their bottom line for those customer’s best interest. Despite the recent negative press, the company is a great American founded business. I believe they will continue to work hard through hurdles and continue to find success. Although they have had recent troubles regarding their food, Chipotle is a brand that is more than just food. It is about “Food with Integrity” and also servicing their customers with integrity.

Who wants to meet me for a burrito bowl?